OCARC – annual fishing tournament to benefit a business with a mission

Published 9:11 am Saturday, July 28, 2018

By Ginger Broomes

The Orange Leader

If you’ve ever received a plaque or trophy or driven a work vehicle with a decal on the side, chances are you have seen the work of OCARC. This unique Orange company was founded in 1956, as a workshop-based business, by parents who saw a need to teach life skills to their adult children with special needs.

The “employees” who make the signs and trophies are actually OCARC’s clients, developmentally disabled adults numbering now around 44, who receive vocational training by making these items, with special focus on social and cognitive skills.

As a non-profit, OCARC relies on sales of their items and help from United Way in order to provide these services, and an annual fundraiser in the form of their annual fishing tournament, known as the OCARC Annual Fishing Tournament, always held the first weekend in August. Now in its 31st year, the tournament takes place at the City of Orange Boat Ramp and boasts up to 50 sponsors.

John Thomas is the Director and has been involved with OCARC since 1974, when, as a college kid, a change in his major led to a change in his career – and life – path.

“I was going to college, and it wasn’t working. I changed majors from Business to Education, with a focus on Special Education,” Thomas said.

“There’s not many places in the city of Orange that offer these services (living skills),” he said. When asked about his duties at OCARC, Thomas said he does everything from cleaning commodes to media relations, anything that needs to be done.

For developmentally-disabled adults and their families, OCARC has been a godsend, and, with their customers ranging from stand-alone companies to municipalities, this 44-year-old company shows no sign of slowing down.

Their annual fishing tournament has become a generational event in Orange, with adults who used to come to the tournament as children now bringing their kids.

A good cause and a good time, the OCARC Annual Fishing Tournament is fun for all ages. Cash and prices will be handed out after the final weigh-in at 5 p.m., Saturday, August 4, with kids 16 and younger getting a special prize of a kayak filled with fishing equipment, for the biggest catch. There are 32 different payouts at the tournament.

Registration forms for the tournament are available online at OCARC.com, or at the business location at 905 W. Park. The tournament begins at 5 p.m. Friday, August 3, and runs through Saturday, August 4, at the boat ramp. Registration is $30.