On May 30, I was part of a group of people who gave away 17 $2,000 scholarships to graduating seniors at Coral Shores. Quite an accomplishment for a small group of people who formed a foundation called the Nick Sheahan Scholarship fund 13 years ago. Thirteen years ago is when our community lost a kid named Nick to a diving accident in the Bahamas. Little did we all know he died of “shallow water blackout,” which has now become quite familiar to our Keys kids since his passing. It was a very sad time for Coral Shores and the students and Nick’s closest friends, one of which was my youngest son Mike.
It was at that time a group of us, Marcia Panse, Tom Sheahan and myself were determined to do something for our community in his name. And this is where it all began, the “Nick Sheahan Scholarship Foundation.” Since that day our group has turned it into a successful fishing tournament, which is now in its tenth year.
This tournament is always been held at Tavernier Creek Marina, and we have been so fortunate to have the support of Tony and Herman to add to the tournaments success. Now when you drive past the marina you can see the barn covered in beautifully painted Mahi on them and the angel wings that represent Nick and say “Fly High.” The marina barn was painted by the famous artist David Dunlevy.
In the past few years our board has grown to a board compiled of Marcia, Tom, Becky Dunlap and Joe Biondoletti and myself, Bernice Dionne. We have given away over $188,000 in Nick’s name. I have given away many a scholarship to my past first graders which is such a great honor to me as a teacher. It makes me feel so proud to be part of bettering their lives for the future.
At this point in my life I have decided to move on from the Nick Sheahan Dolphin rodeo as I get ready to retire from teaching in the next two years. This community has been beyond generous to me and our committee in order to make the money we need to give these scholarships. I am a very lucky person to be part of such an incredible group of people as well as a cause that helps so many. I must thank The Reporter, Jan Darden, for always being so helpful with the advertising end of this event as well as Dougie Hitchcock for all the radio advertising and support that was given. Keys Life Magazine has helped me incredibly to make sure the Nick Sheahan tournament was well promoted. I am so thankful to the radio shows at Green Turtle and Wahoo’s, (especially bill Kelly, Terry Albury and Kim Cheshire) who always allowed me on the air to promote this event.
They always gave us the support we needed when I came to you asking for help. Thanks to the Plantation Key School Families that also sponsored when I asked and my fellow teachers, many of which have retired now, but many who still help. My family and my husband, Joe Dionne, need to be thanked the most for the countless hours I spent away from them. You all stood alongside of me and believed that this cause was important. I am saddened to leave this great group of people, but I have to move on to spending more time with my family, grandchildren and the adventures that lie ahead of me. Please always continue to support Nick Sheahan Fishing tournament and scholarship fund that has been so close to my heart. To my board members, thank you and I will still be there for support. “Fly High” love you Nick.
Bernice Dionne, Nick Sheahan Tournament Director, Plantation Key