LAKE WYLIE — There’s probably only one angler fishing Saturday’s benefit who has met Bo Brown. And many may not have heard of encephalitis. But Jeff Brown won’t be fishing alone.
Brown moved to Lake Wylie from Tennessee about a year ago. He caught up with the Thursday night tournament guys fishing out of Buster Boyd Access Area. Brown fit right in. So when his brother in Atlanta almost lost a son to a disease that affects 1 in 500,000, and then spent two dozen nights in a children’s hospital, Brown knew where to turn.
“I am excited about this upcoming tournament for Bo Brown,” said Jeremy Cabe, who co-runs the Thursday night events. “I hope that we can raise enough to make a difference in this little guy’s life.”
Encephalitis, or a swelling of the brain, was the diagnosis for one-year-old Bo Brown in early July. He spent his first birthday and many more days after that, hospitalized receiving spinal taps, brain scans and all sorts of medication. A bass fishing tournament Oct. 19 from Buster Boyd will help pay the bills.
Sponsors Pleasant Hill/Relevant Church, Lake Wylie Tax, Sterling Source and Lake Wylie Bait & Tackle all pitched in to help. As will many anglers, Cabe expects.
“When Jeff approached me and told me the story of Bo it never crossed my mind not to help, even though I have never met this little guy,” he said. “As a future stepfather of two young children, I immediately thought of them and how hard it must be on his family.”
Lake Wylie anglers are known for similar efforts. In recent years, there have been benefit events for children with cancer, area hunger, breast cancer and other causes. Encephalitis is new, but the spirit of wanting to help is the same.
“We are a fishing community and we look out for each other any way possible,” Cabe said. “When the sun breaks on tournament morning we are all competitors, but when three o’clock comes and the fish are weighed we are all fathers, we are all outdoorsman, and we are all friends.
“Our love for being outdoors has created a bond between anglers that has created a desire to help others and to look after our own.”
Jeff Brown is learning as much about encephalitis as he has fishing. How it can result from a mosquito bite or from water. How it looks like an ear infection at first. How anyone can have it, but an immune deficiency in some allows it to take hold and spread. Brown learned how 70 percent of diagnosed cases like his nephew’s end fatally.
“He about lost his life in the beginning,” Brown said. “It is quick, and it is nasty.”
Bo Brown has suffered some brain damage. He’s had multiple seizures, and will need ongoing physical and occupational therapy. A recent brain scan came back as “abnormal.”
“Nobody knows exactly what that means,” Jeff Brown said.
But there are signs of progress. Just last week Brown received a text message from his brother saying Bo, now 15 months, just took his first steps. They are the first, his uncle hopes, of many to come.
Want to help?
The Bo Brown benefit tournament will be 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 19 from Buster Boyd Access Area. Registration begins at 5 a.m. the day of. Cost is $100 per boat. First-place payout is $1,000. For more information, including sponsorship or other opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org.