Carrying on her father’s legacy of making fishing dreams come true
It’s been almost two years since we featured Krissy Wejebe in Island Jane Magazine. A lot can happen in that amount of time!
Krissy was our April 2013 Island Jane of the Month. At the time, she was just getting started with the Jose Wejebe Spanish Fly Memorial Foundation created in memory of her father who had passed away a year earlier in a plane accident.
Jose was a big man – I don’t mean in stature, I mean in character. One of those people who seemed larger than life. Whose charisma seemed to fill up the entire room. He “never met a stranger” as they say. He had a passion for fishing and the ocean and a way of instilling that passion in the hearts of thousands of people. You may remember him as the host of Spanish Fly, a saltwater fishing show on the Outdoor Channel and Vida del Mar and Saltwater Tacklebox, short segments of Spanish Fly on ESPN of about 2-4 minutes that focused on developing an understanding of how life worked underwater in order to become a better fisherman and fishing techniques like how to tie liter to braided line.
Not only was he known as a fishing celebrity but he was also someone who gave back to the community through several charities like the Make a Wish Foundation, Cystic Fybrosis and Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Jose died way too early in a plane crash in Everglades City in April 2012. It was a devastating blow to his thousands of fans, friends and family – especially his daughter Krissy who had been working alongside her father learning filming and production and helping with his work.
So when I first met with Krissy, she was embarking on the adventure of a lifetime, figuring out the details of running the Jose Wejebe Spanish Fly Memorial Foundation to continue her father’s legacy. Fast forward a year and a half and the team now has a clear mission, “to honor Jose’s legacy by making fishing dreams come true for those who face life-impacting challenges”.
The Foundation (JWF) has made “fishing dreams come true” now for 12 kids referred by Make a Wish including Make A Wish’s 9000th wish. They are also now working with veterans from the VA Recreational Department of Miami to make their fishing dreams come true.They even one the Make a Wish gift in kind angel of the year award, which is an award we share with Publix, FL Marlins, and Bacardi. Not bad for the first year!
The most meaningful part of it for Krissy is getting to know the people and their families on a more personal level. Sharing Jose’s world and vision with them while they experience the trip of a lifetime. One of their wish kids once said to her “I have done fundraisers for a lot of other Foundations. It was always fun, and don’t get me wrong I’m having a great time fishing. What’s different about this experience is that I feel I have met people that will remain in my life after this trip is over. This experience would have been amazing without meeting people so close to Jose, but the fact that we get to hang out with my hero’s friends and family makes it even better.”
January 18th is Jose’s birthday. As a way to remember him and celebrate his life, the Foundation has organized Fish for Jose, a day long event to spend the day doing what Jose would do. Krissy says, “January 18 is Jose’s birthday, and we ask people to take the day and celebrate his life, and what he believed in. During Jose’s life he was dedicated to teaching others about the gift of fishing, how to fish, and how to care for the environment that gives back to us in so many ways. So on this day we are asking people to do something Jose would do. Introduce someone to fishing, learn something new, let them go so they can grow, or get out of the office and get on the water. Everyone will meet back at the dock at 4pm to share stories, memories and a meal. Key West Harbour Yacht Club will be offering to “cook your catch”, live music and an auction. Tickets are $25.00 and can be purchased at the website or on Facebook.”