Shell Key West Challenge
May 28 - May 31, 2009
The Shell Key West Challenge celebrated a milestone May 28-31 when cumulative proceeds surpassed $2 million at the 21st annual event. In the past three years alone, the tournament has contributed in excess of $300,000 to the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI), a center of excellence at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, the best hope for a cure. For Hayden Blaylock, founder and CEO of Blaylock Oil Company, along with his daughter and son-in-law, Crystal Blaylock and John Sanchez, the effort is more than philanthropy. It is a passionate mission dedicated to 9-year-old Matthew Sanchez, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2005.
“We are so proud to have Shell and Blaylock Oil as a part of our family,” said DRI Foundation President and CEO Robert A. Pearlman. “Matthew said that his wish is to live a day without having diabetes; it is our goal to allow him to live EVERY day without diabetes.”
Matthew’s parents and grandparents aren’t the only adults who are dedicated to supporting the DRI in his honor. This year, more than 175 Shell executives, employees, wholesalers, and corporate sponsors traveled to Key West from 30 states, plus Canada, for this scavenger hunt of fishing tournaments. Each morning, a friendly crew of volunteers served up breakfast sandwiches and boxed lunches before sending 21 teams of anglers out into the gorgeous waters surrounding the Florida Keys. Racking up points by catching any of 15 species of fish, many of which were released after the weights were estimated, participants enjoyed two full days of fishing.
The cocktail party and awards banquet, sponsored by Motiva Enterprises and Adorno & Yoss, LLP, and held Saturday evening, at Conch Republic Seafood, could easily have been mistaken for a family reunion. Even the competitive nature of the tournament couldn’t break the feeling of camaraderie among the participants.
“We are in it to the end,” said Shell Vice President Hugh Cooley, as he presented a $25,000 check, committing Shell to serving once again as title sponsor for the 2010 event.
Between tournament awards, raffle prizes, and silent auction items, it seemed everyone won something. But perhaps the biggest winner drove away in a Mercedes-Benz Smart Passion Cabriolet convertible, donated by board members Joe and LindyRoth. All eyes were on Cameron Sanchez, Matthew’s younger brother, when he drew the name of Terry Fitzgerald, Motiva Enterprises Wholesale Sales Manager. Apparently what goes around really does come around because “Fitz” has been a staunch supporter of the tournament since its inception.
DRIF Event Photos
DRI Scientific Director Camillo Ricordi, M.D., Crystal Blaylock with sons Cameron and Matthew Sanchez, and Hayden Blaylock at the 2009 Shell Key West Challenge.
DRI Foundation President and CEO Robert A. Pearlman thanked founder and CEO of Blaylock Oil Company Hayden Blaylock for supporting the DRI.
This year's event was dedicated to Shell Vice President Hugh Cooley, who announced his retirement.
Photos by Vanessa M. Lam, VLM Studios