Fishing for Dollars
The Bilzin Sumberg trial attorney put his passion to good use
Published in 2006 Florida Super Lawyers magazine
on June 14, 2006
Updated on January 25, 2017
Mitch Widom knows a thing or two about fishing. After getting hooked on the sport at age 16, he has been casting his line ever since. For over a decade, he’s organized fishing trips for a group of close friends to such exotic locales as Brazil, Costa Rica, remote Alaska and Guatemala. “It’s a passion,” Widom says, “though my wife would probably say it’s an obsession!”
But when he and his wife, Alicia, learned in 2004 that their oldest daughter, Taylor, had Crohn’s disease, a digestive condition that affects more than 1 million people in the United States, the Bilzin Sumberg trial attorney put that passion to good use. And what was once called “The All-Guys Fishing Tournament” became the Keymorada Invitational Fly-Spin Tournament.
Widom decided to hold the benefit in May — which he calls “prime time for fishing in the Florida Keys.” He limited the two-day tournament to 60 (now raised to 65) participants, but to involve those fishermen and women in the fundraising. “Most of the time when you fish a tournament, there’s an $800 registration fee. We don’t charge a registration fee,” Widom says. “Instead, we use the 60 participants to help sell tickets [for the benefit drawing].”
His strategy has paid off — along with donations from 65 law firms, cash sponsors and an online auction, the event reeled in more than $152,000 in its first year, 2005, easily shattering the original goal of $35,000. At press time, the 2006 tournament had already exceeded its goal of $200,000 to benefit the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.
Despite the rigors of organizing the tournament, Widom still finds time during the event to fish with his family, including Taylor, who has taken a keen interest in her father’s hobby. “It’s been great to help my daughter and help others,” Widom says, “while doing something I really love with people I really love.”