Fishing tournament in memory of Larry Wilder raises record-setting funds to support students and teachers

Larry Wilder, Hillsborough Education Foundation, older man in black and whiteLarry Wilder had many loves in life—among them: his family, fishing and supporting public education to help our students succeed and strengthen our community.Logo, Larry Wilder Memorial Fishing Tournament, Hillsborough Education Foundation, white fish on blue background

Wilder passed away last summer after a battle with cancer, but his legacy lives on in the newly named Larry Wilder Memorial Fishing Tournament to support the Hillsborough Education Foundation. And what a way to honor him: this year’s tournament raised a record-setting $136,444—pushing the total to more than one million dollars raised since the tournament began in 2006.

“Very excited to be here for the 13th Annual—the actual 1st Annual Larry Wilder Memorial Fishing Tournament,” said Chris Farkas, Hillsborough County Public Schools Deputy Superintendent of Operations. “This tournament, I’ve been a part of for years. It’s so much fun to get the group together that’s been in support of public schools for so long. This year is special, because it’s honoring Larry. Larry was the brainchild behind it. He’s been one of the driving forces behind it, so to be able to honor him and have a good time in his memory is a little bitter sweet. I wish he was here,” Farkas said.

For Wilder’s widow, Anita, it was tough to be at the tournament without her avid angler by her side, but it comforted her to see so many people continuing to support what Larry loved.

“Larry Wilder was a good man. He was a good architect and a great supporter of our community. He supported public schools, and he supported learning,” said Anita Wilder. “It will continue for him and for what he was very interested in and committed to.”

Wilder’s firm, Wilder Architecture, continues to organize the event in his honor.

“It’s so important to be able to carry on his legacy. This was his favorite and most-important project, in terms of helping the local community, so it’s wonderful that we’re able to carry this on in his name,” said Event Organizer Kim Headland with Wilder Architecture.

Check out the video from the event!

People holding giant check, Hillsborough Education FoundationMoney raised at the tournament from cash and in-kind donations benefits Hillsborough Education Foundation’s Teaching Tools Resource Center. The program provides Hillsborough County teachers at Title I schools the opportunity to shop at our store once per month for free classroom supplies. It helps to ease the financial strain on teachers and gives students the tools they need to succeed.

Visit our site for more information about Hillsborough Education Foundation’s Teaching Tools Resource Center!

Fundraising efforts also support classroom and school enrichment grants, which give teachers a chance to implement innovative educational programs to spark students’ interests and advance student achievement.

Check out more information about Hillsborough Education Foundation’s Classroom and School Grants!

“This annual fishing tournament is really special to us in a couple ways. The funds it raises for our students and for us to be able to help our teachers and our students in getting resources, but also because of a great man who contributed so much to Hillsborough Education Foundation, education in general and to Tampa Bay. In honor of Larry Wilder, we’re really excited and thankful for this opportunity.” Kim Jowell

“What’s really great about this fishing tournament is it allows people who have businesses to understand the importance of the public schools, and it gives them an opportunity to contribute to the success of the public schools in a very direct way,” said Royce Reed, HEF Board Chair.

The tournament also supports two student scholarships. For the first time this year, the Hillsborough Education Foundation created the Larry Wilder Memorial Scholarship.

“I’m so honored to be getting a memorial scholarship. I feel that’s the best kind—when someone does enough good in their life to be remembered in that way. I think that’s a really honoring thing. I’m really grateful for that,” said Nicolena Barnet, the first Larry Wilder Memorial Scholarship recipient.4 people standing together for Larry Wilder Memorial Scholarship, Hillsborough Education Foundation

Xavier Thomas was awarded the Alex Anston Scholarship, which Rob and Linda Anston started several years ago in honor of their young son, Alex, who loved to fish. Eleven scholarships have been awarded since the start of the fund.

See team pictures of participants and like us on Facebook!

Congratulations to the winners in our Larry Wilder Memorial Fishing Tournament:


Grand Slam

86.25 total inches—Quoc Trong, Cox Fire Protection with Capt. Mike Rogal
Snook: 29” + Redfish: 36.75” + Trout: 20.5”


1st Place: 40” – Ismael Torres, SunCoast Financial with Capt. Kyle Nifong

2nd Place: 31.75” – Sam Ellison, EWI with Capt. Aaron Jackson

3rd Place: 30” – Rick Rowe, EWI with Capt. Aaron Jackson


1st Place: 37.75” – Robbie Manikis, Trane with Capt. Julio Lima

2nd Place: 37” – Efrain Toro, SunCoast Financial with Capt. Kyle Nifong

3rd Place: 35.75” – Keenan Sanz, Trane with Capt. Julio Lima


1st Place: 28” – Jerome Williams, Williams Company with Capt. Rick Silkworth

2nd Place: 26” – Tom Schumaker, Envision with Capt. Kevin Little (Time 11:17AM)

3rd Place: 26” – John Thompson, Wilder Architecture with Capt. Chris Wiggins (Time: 11:54AM)

Don’t miss the video of some of the catches the anglers reeled in!

This year’s tournament was postponed due to inclement weather in the spring. The second annual Larry Wilder Memorial Fishing Tournament is scheduled for April 10, 2020