Category Archives: Community Outreach

Cancer-Surviving Sailor to Embark on $1 Million Circumnavigation for Charity

Cancer survivor, sailor and second-generation boat builder Johannes “Jopie” Helsen plans to embark on a $1 million around-the-world fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Heidi Trilsch and Jopie Helsen are set to sail around the world to fundraise $1 million for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Born in Holland and now living in St. Petersburg, Fla., Helsen, the owner of Sailor’s Wharf Yacht Yard, was diagnosed with throat cancer five years ago after experiencing pain and soreness during a sailing trip in the Mediterranean.

“I found myself rubbing my neck and I figured, with my luck, I better go see a doctor,” said Helsen, who was treated at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa, Fla.

Inspired by the many patients and survivors he met during treatment, Helsen knew he wanted to do something to help the fight against cancer.

During the United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis, Md., he met Marty Siederer of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society [LLS] and Product Lead for the Leukemia Cup Regatta. Helsen discussed with Siederer his idea – to raise $1 million during a round-the-world sailing fundraiser for the charity.

“We’re so grateful for what he’s done to support and increase awareness of our organization,” said Siederer, who’s been with the LLS for nearly 40 years. “People like Jopie are just incredible ambassadors, whether you’re into the sailing community or not, to help cure cancer. That’s a very high quality and we’re so grateful for his help.”

With Siederer’s support, the first step toward such an adventure meant that Helsen, alongside his girlfriend Heidi Trilsch, needed a boat – a hearty, seaworthy vessel built to withstand the 15-month voyage known as the World Arc.

Hosted by the World Cruising Club, World Arc is a 26,000 nautical-mile trade wind circumnavigation that departs Jan. 12, 2019 from Saint Lucia island in the Caribbean to sail around the globe – most of which in the southern hemisphere.

While Helsen and Trilsch, whose stepmother is a Lymphoma survivor, will have long stretches at sea (the longest leg is 2,980 miles across the Pacific), World Arc includes opportunities for on-shore exploration – with close to 30 stops around the world at destinations like the Galapagos Islands, Bora Bora and Cape Town, South Africa.

Illustration courtesy of the World Cruising Club.

Finding the right boat for such a venture was no easy task. For Helsen, it not only had to be strong and capable for the harsh conditions at sea, but also comfortable and spacious enough for he and Trilsch, a videographer and an occasional crew member.

“We actually made an offer on two different boats that we did not get,” said Helsen, aged 71. “And now, looking back on it, we realize how impressive this boat is.”

With its sky-blue hull and matching spinnaker, Helsen purchased the aptly named and visually stunning SKY – a 57-foot dual-helm Vaudrey Miller monohull built in New Zealand and designed by Simonis Voogd in 2004.

SKY – the 57-foot monohull Helsen and Trilsch will sail around the world.

While originally built for the extremes of circumnavigation, Helsen said SKY had taken a beating over the years and needed some remodeling and upgrades ahead of the 2019 voyage.

Over the course of nearly one year, Helsen and his 13-person crew at his yacht yard worked on renovating SKY– outfitting the boat with a self-furling boom, enlarging the cockpit and making it possible for Helsen to sail single-handedly, should the need arise.

Because 100 percent of donations go to the LLS, Helsen said he needs sponsors to help offset the costs and supply parts and equipment.

When TACO Marine VP Mike Kushner got wind of Helsen’s fundraiser and SKY renovations, he arranged for the company to donate brand new Rigid Vinyl Rub Rail with a stainless-steel insert, LED lights, a custom-made helm chair and a pedestal for the boat.

TACO donated new LED Lights, which help illuminate SKY’s cockpit for enhanced safety at night.

“He’s one of these guys who’s very passionate and very active in the boating industry,” said Kushner, who first met Helsen more than 30 years ago. “Having done the TACO Marine Project Boat fundraiser myself, I have a better sense of appreciation for what he’s trying to do. It’s a really cool project.”

Another fan of Helsen’s fundraiser and someone with many friends and relatives diagnosed with Lymphoma is National Marine Manufacturers Association President Thom Dammrich, who’s known the sailor for several years because of his participation in the marine industry.

“I admire his adventurous spirit,” said Dammrich, who also has an endorsement published on Helsen’s website. “This is a life adventure and for a great cause. I wish them a safe voyage and return.”

With six months to go before he sets sail, Helsen said there’s still plenty to do on SKY to prep for departure, including installing new satellite equipment, rigging new electronics and conducting sea trials. He also hopes to recruit a few more sponsors to help fund the expenses while also raising awareness for the cause.

To donate to Helsen’s SV SKY 57 fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, visit svsky57.com and its donation page.

One hundred percent of every donation toward Helsen’s round-the-world fundraiser goes to the LLS, which is the largest nonprofit dedicated to curing blood cancers. Since 1949, LLS has donated more than $1.2 billion toward cancer research. The charity also provides patient support and has a grassroots network of more than 100,000 volunteers advocating at state and local levels for policy change and program funding.

In the coming months, we’ll be writing more about Helsen and following his journey around the globe. For more updates, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

TACO Spotlight: Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Uses His Love for Water to Help Veterans

While many across America will be outdoors this Memorial Day, retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Tim Hoffmann will be in his truck driving more than 1,000 miles from Maine to Indiana to help veterans in need.

It all started in 2013 after Hoffmann retired from both his civilian and Army Reserve careers in Nursing Administration. As a lifelong fisherman and boater looking for ways to give back, he saw an opportunity for the boating and fishing industries to come together to help veterans.

“We could reach many deserving vets who had served in combat and were experiencing significant challenges and hardship on their return to civilian life,” said Hoffmann, who was drafted into the military in 1968 during the Vietnam War.

In 2014, Hoffmann and his daughter Ann launched Vets On The Water [VOTW], a Maine-based nonprofit dedicated to helping active duty, disabled veterans and Gold Star families experience and enjoy time on the water. Activities include fresh and saltwater fishing, sailing, cruising and ice fishing.

While Hoffmann would normally be on the water with veterans this Memorial Day, he instead is adding another boat to the VOTW program – a specially adapted SunChaser Geneva 22 Fish Deluxe pontoon by Smokercraft with a Yamaha Outboard engine, electronics from Raymarine and a trailer from BassPro.

On Sunday, May 27, Hoffmann and his daughter are departing Rockport, Maine for the Smokercraft headquarters in New Paris, Indiana – a 16-hour drive taking place over Sunday and Monday, Memorial Day. On Tuesday, Hoffmann said he plans to tour the facility and meet the entire Smokercraft team before heading back to Maine with the new boat in tow – arriving just in time to prep for another day with Vets On The Water.

Smokercraft is donating a specially adapted Sunchaser Geneva 22 Fish Deluxe pontoon. Stock photo courtesy of Smokercraft.

Phil Smoker, Smokercraft Vice President of Sales, said the pontoon is the second boat the family-owned company is donating to VOTW. He said the addition of the pontoon will provide veterans in wheelchairs an opportunity to participate because of the accessible boarding and ability to more easily maneuver around the deck.

“We love what he’s doing for our vets and we hope that the program only continues to grow,” said Smoker.

VOTW is entirely volunteer based. There’s no overhead costs and 100 percent of every donation, whether fishing or boating products, gas cards or meals, goes to veterans. Because of this, Hoffmann’s mantra is that the program belongs to all who give their time, equipment or services to the cause.

Hoffmann, second from the left in red, onboard the 18-foot specially adapted Smokercraft Freedom 180, which was also donated by the Indiana-based company for the program. For this boat, Suzuki donated the engine, Venture Trailers donated the boat trailer and Fulton donated trailer accessories. Photo courtesy of Tim Hoffmann.

Hoffmann also works with the VA Maine Health Care System in Togus, which identifies eligible clients, obtains physician orders for participation and provides transportation and VA staff on each watercraft during the weekly trips.

Weather permitting, Hoffmann and his team of volunteers conduct nearly 60 trips per year for an estimated 1,000 veterans.

Hoffmann with retired Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills, who lost portions of both arms and legs from an IED while on active duty in Afghanistan. In Sept. 2013, Mills founded the Travis Mills Foundation, a nonprofit organization formed to benefit and assist combat-injured veterans. Read more about Mills at www.travismills.org. Photo courtesy of Tim Hoffmann.

Shortly after the program first launched, Hoffmann reached out to TACO for some aluminum rod holders. After speaking with Mike Kushner, TACO’s Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Hoffmann said he was surprised when a pair of brand new Grand Slam Outrigger Mounts, Aluminum Tele-Outrigger Poles and a pair of 4-rod Aluminum Rod Holders arrived at his house just five days later.

“I think we’re the only people in the country who are using outriggers for fishing mackerel, which is a very small fish,” said Hoffmann. “But it allows us to get another two or more lines in the water and not get tangled.”

VOTW also uses this 23-foot SeaCraft with a 3-foot long bracket and a Tohatsu 250 outboard engine. In this photo, Hoffmann rigged his TACO outriggers with multiple flags to honor veterans. Photo courtesy of Tim Hoffmann.

Hoffmann also connected with Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association [NMMA]. Together with the BoatUS Foundation, the American Sportfishing Association and the NMMA, Hoffmann is looking for ways to replicate the VOTW program throughout New England and potentially nationwide.

“What I really like about Tim’s effort is that it’s totally volunteer driven,” said Dammrich, who first learned of Hoffmann and the VOTW program two years ago. “He wants to find other volunteers like himself in other parts of the country who are willing to take this on, with the support of the boating industry, to get veterans on the water.”

Hoffmann said he is optimistic VOTW will continue to grow because of the many organizations and individuals who believe in the program.

“I had the idea, but the program truly belongs to the people who participate and support it,” said Hoffmann. “We create the opportunity for the vets, but the real opportunity is for people like Mike Kushner and others, the boaters and fishermen, who step up and take the vets out.”

Looking to the future, Hoffmann is hoping to network with scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Holes, Mass. to plan offshore shark and bottom fishing excursions. Additionally, he said he has no plans of slowing down his work for veterans in Maine and the surrounding areas.

While the VOTW does not have an official Web site, Hoffmann encourages veterans and others who want to learn more to visit the organization’s Facebook page, “VETS on the WATER.”

In the coming days, we’ll be posting updates about Hoffmann’s road trip and Smokercraft visit to our TACO Marine Twitter and Facebook pages. Until then, thank you to all the amazing military men and women who have served our great nation. We wish everyone a happy and safe Memorial Day.

The Conclusion to the TACO Marine Project Boat Saga with Ship Shape TV

The episode you’ve been waiting for is here. We’re bringing you the final Ship Shape TV episode that features the TACO Marine Project Boat conclusion.

An adventure more than two years in the making, with twists and turns and wonderful surprises, Project Boat would not have been possible without the tremendous support of its many sponsors listed below and the crew at Ship Shape TV.

Together, we fundraised more than $132,000 for the I’M LOGAN IT Foundation – supporting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and college scholarships for deserving students.

Winner Roger LeFranc holding the winning ticket, which he purchased during the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show Nov. 4, 2017.

The winning raffle ticket was sold to Roger LeFranc of Melbourne, Florida during the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show Nov. 1 – 5, 2017. LeFranc, an avid fisherman and boater, said he plans to christen the boat “Justin Time II” after his son, Justin.

Left to right: Tim Neuman, Bert Delle of Ship Shape TV, Mike Trent, winner Roger LeFranc, Justin LeFranc, Rick Francisco and Mike Kushner of TACO Marine.

Alongside his family and many friends, LeFranc said he plans to take his newly restored Pursuit 2650 on many fishing adventures and tournaments as the “Justin Time Fishing Team.”

Thank you to A1 Boat Transport, AA Boat Tops & Canvas, ACR Artex, Armstrong Nautical Products, Boat Outfitters, Boat Steering Solutions, Bob Hewes Boats, BT’s Welding, Canvas Designers, CWR Electronics, Dennis Friel Art Studios, LLC, Dometic, Dorado Boats, East Penn Manufacturing Co., Edson Marine, Fiberglass Coatings, Sunbrella, GOST, Hi Tide Manufacturing, IGX 2000, Interlux Yacht Paint, JL Audio, The Jupiter Bike, Finholder and More, Lenco Marine, Magic Tilt Trailers, Mantus Marine, Marine Customs Unlimited, Marine Tech, Mate Series, MPI, Normic Fishing, Ocean-Tamer Marine Bean Bags, Pacer Group, ProMariner, Quantum Paint, SeaDek Marine Nonskid, Sea-Dog Line, Shurhold, SPX Johnson Pumps, Swobbit Products, Taylor Made Systems, ThrowRaft, Sea Tow, SiriusXM Radio, TNT Custom Boatworks, White Water Marine Hardware and Yamaha Outboards.

Also, a special thank you to the Pinellas Community Foundation, Miami International Boat Show, Tampa Bay Boat Show and the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

I’M LOGAN IT Foundation Hosts Successful Flag Football Fundraiser for Charity

After completing the TACO Marine Project Boat fundraiser for the I’M LOGAN IT Foundation in November 2017, we’re excited to recap the most recent fundraising event that took place Dec. 30, 2017 in Clearwater, Florida.

More than 33 teams and dozens of friends and family came together to participate in the 6th annual I’M LOGAN IT Foundation Flag Football Fundraiser – raising more than $20,000 for charity in memory of Logan Kushner.

Through the Foundation since 2012, more than $300,000 has been donated to charity – supporting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and college scholarships for deserving students.

Congratulations to the winning teams in three divisions.

“MVP” in the Top Gun division.
“Sniper Gang” in the Competitive division.
“Gabagool” in the Weekend Warrior division.

Thank you to the many volunteers who supported the Foundation in a variety of tasks, including the field set up, team sign-in, scoring, managing the raffle and silent auction, preparing and serving the lunchtime barbecue, concessions and clean up. Without the volunteers, this event would not be possible.

Special thanks to Tim Sattinger and the referees for another fantastic job on the field, Ed Grube and Events Done Right – the best DJ and entertainment in Tampa Bay, and Fanny Scargle for wonderful photography – beautifully capturing the events of such a special day.

Also, we’d like to thank our many sponsors, including Sonny’s BBQ, the American Running Company, Bouchard Insurance, Capogna’s Dugout, Don’s Marine Salvage, Huntington Learning Center and Safety Harbor Montessori for all your tremendous support.

We hope to see everyone back at the end of 2018 for the 7th annual I’M LOGAN IT Flag Football Fundraiser on Saturday, December    29.

TACO Marine-Sponsored Tournament Supported Florida Toys For Tots

This past October, Dorado Boats, headquartered in Palm Harbor, Florida, hosted its first ever Fall Classic Fishing Tournament in Tampa, Florida. As a leader in the sport fishing community for nearly 60 years, TACO Marine was a proud sponsor of this exciting event!

Not only were competitors angling for Snook, Red Fish, Trout and a Grand Slam, but all proceeds benefited the Toys for Tots Foundation – supporting children and families in need during the holiday season.

Thanks to this wonderful event, more than 300 toys were donated to Toys for Tots in Pinellas County, Florida – spreading cheer and the spirit of giving.

Check out the pictures below, courtesy of the Dorado Boats Facebook page, highlighting a job well done.

IMPORTANT UPDATES About the I’M LOGAN IT Flag Football Fundraiser

Announcing two important updates for anyone participating in the 6th annual I’M LOGAN IT Foundation Flag Football Fundraiser Dec. 30, sponsored by TACO Marine.

  1. The location has changed to the Countryside Soccer Complex, 3060 McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater, FL. 33761.
  2. Top Gun, Competitive and Weekend Warrior divisions are full. Any new teams interested in playing in these divisions can be added to the waitlist in case a spot opens. Individuals (free agents) who would like to participate can also sign up and we will help find a team for you to join.

More information can be found here.

We’re looking forward to an amazing ay of Fun, Friendship and Football!

Save the Date: I’M LOGAN IT Fundraiser Dec. 28 at Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza!

This holiday season, we’re proud to be a long-time sponsor of the I’M LOGAN IT Foundation, which supports the JDRF and college scholarships for deserving youth.

Coming up, the Foundation is hosting its 6th annual Flag Football Fundraiser in Clearwater, Florida. Leading up to the big day, the Foundation is also hosting a fundraising party Dec. 28 at Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza in Clearwater from 6 to 10 p.m.

Whether you dine-in or order carry-out, 20 percent of all tracked orders will be donated to the Foundation. Just tell your server you are dining to support the I’M LOGAN IT Foundation.

THAT’S NOT ALL!

The Greg Billings Band will be playing music and there will be an amazing auction and raffle! Some of the prizes include a beach vacation, golfing, original art, a Weber grill, private fishing trips and much more! Plus, registered flag football teams can pick up their I’M LOGAN IT t-shirts and Flag Football Fundraiser lunch tickets.

Whether you’re playing football or want to enjoy great music and food, please join us to help make a different. And keep on LOGAN IT!

For more information, please visit imloganit.com/news.

Announcing the I’M LOGAN IT Foundation Flag Football Fundraiser!

Since 2012, TACO Metals has been a proud supporter of the I’M LOGAN IT Foundation – created in memory of Logan Kushner, to honor and preserve his unique spirit and passion for life. The Foundation’s mission is to inspire good self-esteem in youth through acts of kindness, while also providing support to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and college scholarships for deserving youth. Over the past six years, the Foundation has raised nearly $300,000 – with all the money received going to charity.

On Dec. 30, the Foundation is hosting its 6th annual Flag Football Fundraiser. Team registration for this all-day event is open now through Dec. 23. It will again take place at the Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex in Clearwater, Florida, and is a day of “fun, friendship and football” for everyone. Come out and enjoy a half-time barbecue, music, raffle and silent auction.

REGISTER HERE

Last year’s tournament saw a record 40 teams and more than 300 individuals, ages 15 and older, participate. For more information about the I’M LOGAN IT Foundation and the Flag Football Fundraiser, please visit imloganit.com or e-mail info@imloganit.com.

BECOME A TOURNAMENT SPONSOR

From all of us at TACO Metals, thank you to the sponsors, participants, volunteers and friends of the I’M LOGAN IT Foundation for all your support!