Floridians react, offer ill boy free trip, tourney in his name


ORLANDO, Fla. -- Floridians reacted yesterday to news of Chris Mathis' --ed dream of a fishing trip with TV hero Roland Martin by offering the Georgia youth with an inoperable brain tumor a free deep-sea fishing trip and the honor of having a charity fishing tournament named for him.

Meanwhile, the president of the firm that produces Martin's weekly fishing show said Martin's inability to honor the 14-year-old's request to fish with him was the result of "miscommunications," and the trip might still be arranged if Mathis wanted. The firm has also firmed up plans for Mathis to fish with another TV fishing show host, Orlando Wilson.

Orlando attorney Roger Helms offered the use of his 48-foot sportfishing charter boat Hambone II for a day of deep-sea fishing from Port Canaveral.

"I'd be tickled to do it -- I'll take him and Orlando Wilson, too, if he wants to go, and Chris' dad," Helms said.

Helms said he made his offer to Dream Makers. The organization had originally tried to set up a trip with Martin but, after being told his schedule was too full, began discussions for a trip instead with another fishing show host, Wilson.

While Helms was making his offer, the organizer of a fund-raising bass tournament said he wants to name the contest after Mathis and invite him and his family to attend.

"We want to name it the first annual Chris Mathis Bass Tournament and invite Chris and his family to come to Orlando for a week, with all expenses paid," tournament organizer Ted Ensminger said. He said plans are still being completed, but the contest will raise funds for Give Kids the World, a Kissimmee, Fla.-based organization that arranges expense-paid trips for seriously ill children.

Meanwhile, officials with Outdoor Telecommunications, which produces both Martin's and Wilson's weekly programs, conferred with Dream Maker representatives to straighten out what they called "an unfortunate bit of miscommunications."

Jeff Davidson, the firm's president, said his firm originally had been told the trip would have to take place in June or July, when Martin has a full schedule. Now, he said, the firm is trying to see if a trip later in the year is possible.

"If he still wants to go fishing with Roland, and if we can work out a time frame, then it should be eminently do-able to have him fish with Roland," he said.

Mathis, who spent the day at his home in Rock Springs fielding reporters' questions, said he wouldn't take the second-chance trip if it is offered.

"I'd rather go fishing with Orlando -- I can't wait until I get to go," he said.

Martin could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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