While anglers from around the state were counting fish at last weekend’s Capt. Eddy Haneman Sailfish Tournament in Wrightsville Beach, the Stiles family of Wilmington were “counting joys.”
That’s because the proceeds from the tournament, along with the personal winnings of the entrants, were donated to help support a Joy Sophia Stiles, a six-month old infant with severe medical issues after being born eight weeks premature with fluid on the brain.
“When people asked how we were, we said we have joy. And we we learned she would be a girl, we named her joy,” father Jason Stiles told a gathering of about 100 at Sunday’s tournament party at the Bridge Tender Marina.
Guided by the Bible verse James 1:2-3, “Counting joys in trials,” Stiles said: ”The biggest trial is the unknown.”
“We can count trials like joys because it makes us like Jesus, who suffered for us,” he said. The tournament, named in honor of a legendary Wrightsville Beach charter boat captain, raised
several thousand dollars for the Stiles family through the Lower Cape Fear Hospice.
Boats that won cash prizes donated them back to the family, including the $2,500 won by the
anglers on the Decoy. The Wilmington-based boat caught the most sailfish during the two-day
tournament, including the deciding fish caught by Emily Warren, her first ever sailfish. Laylani Callaway won the tournament’s Youth Angler of the Year award when she reeled in a sailfish at 2:50 p.m. on the Reel Cat, minutes before the 3 p.m. cutoff. It was also her first sailfish.
“It was so fun,” she said. “It was really heavy and it was hard to keep the line tight.”