Its been two years since I have seen, heard, hugged, and laughed with my father. It's been an emotional roller coaster, but luckily I have the love and support from many to continue to keep his spirit alive, and my spirit up.
Board member and best friend to my father, Ken Davis, has helped me in so many ways I can't begin to put into words. On this two-year mark, I was having a difficult time getting focused to write something ... anything. Ken stepped in as best friends do and put a little something together.
It's been two years since a tragic accident claimed the life of the legendary Jose Wejebe, "The Spanish Fly." On that day, the sporting world lost an icon in the world of salt water fishing, and I lost my closest friend. While there are hundreds of good looking fishing guides standing in line waiting to be the host of a weekend morning fishing show, no one stands in line to be my closest friend. For me, the anguish was personal. Jose had helped me through the darkest hours of my life, stood me up, brushed me off and showed me why life was worth living. We had shared laughs, stories, dreams, grilled steak dinners, politics, music, stories of our daughters and even dated some of the same beautiful women. I could care less about his fishing abilities, his plane, his boat or his television show. To me he was just "Jose." In a very conceited manner I felt my grief, my loss, was greater than anyone's except perhaps his Mother, Sister, Daughter,...and Mike Torbisco, but for sure mine equaled theirs. But life has a way of taking something bad and teaching you a good lesson.
In the days, weeks, and months to follow, I found myself wearing my Spanish Fly t-shirts more often. I wanted no one to forget my friend and wore the shirts like a banner to help the world remember... and remember they have.
Wearing the shirts brought more people to me than I ever thought possible and each had their own heartfelt memory of Jose. One woman stopped me and asked where I purchased the shirt and before I could answer she told me how she and her husband had driven for two and a half hours to see Jose when he made an appearance at a sporting goods store in the northeast. With a tear in her eye she told me, "how wonderful he was," and then turned red when she gushed about how handsome he was. "He signed my visor and now it sits on our mantle with our children's pictures," she said proudly.
Another woman stopped me in a restaurant and told me how her son had cried when Jose died. "He's 18 but watched his how every weekend and the reruns during the week. According to my son he was the only one on TV who was real. To this day, my son won't gaff a fish because Jose never did and he goes barefoot on the boat all the time." She laughed about it and then asked where she could buy the shirt. I almost took off the one I was wearing to give to her.
Then, two months ago, a young man approached me at a boat ramp and without questions or introduction began rattling off his dedication to Jose and "The Spanish Fly." "I've seen every show at least four times. I started watching his show when I was fourteen. My friends were playing stupid video games while I learned to fish from the best. Greatest loss to the fishing world ever," he said with a touch of anger. Then, without waiting for a response he turned on his heel and walked away.
These are only a few of the dozens of incidents I have experienced over the past two years. I could write pages of them. Each story, each person, helped remind me I am not the only one who feels a loss or pain. My grief is shared with thousands of people whose lives Jose touched in a way only he could. Their support for the Jose Wejebe "Spanish Fly" Memorial Foundation is proof that Jose and what he stood for are not forgotten.
Shortly after Jose's death, friends, sponsors and family pledged to keep his memory alive by establishing a foundation in his name, dedicated to continuing Jose's legacy of generosity to charitable causes.
For the Jose Wejebe "Spanish Fly" Foundation the driving force was, and is, the fans, Sponsors and Jose's daughter, Krissy Wejebe. Krissy wasted no time in bringing together some of Jose's closest friends and professional partners to form a board of directors to establish the Foundation and provide direction. Her infectious spirit and dedication to her father provided the motivating strength needed to launch the Foundation. Fans and Sponsors have rallied around the Foundation to make it succeed.
Former sponsors of The Spanish Fly such as Shimano, Costa Del Mar, Raymarine, SeaVee, Hells Bay, Yeti and Under Armour have rallied in support of the Foundation to provide funding, equipment and public support.
In less than two years, the Jose Wejebe Foundation has teamed with The Make a Wish (MAW) Foundation and the Recreational Department of the VA Hospital in Miami to fulfill 12 wishes and two trips for veterans, including the MAW's 9000th wish. Krissy's leadership and dedication were recognized on October 2, 2013 when MAW awarded the Jose Wejebe Spanish Fly Memorial Foundation, with Make-A-Wish Southern Florida's "In-Kind Angel" award at the donor appreciation event in Miami.
While Krissy works tirelessly to raise money for the Foundation and is present for every event, she attributes the success to the thousands of supporters who have donated money, time and equipment in memory of her Father.
The Foundation has already scheduled four new wishes for MAW and added more Veterans events. Your help and support, makes it happen and we are forever grateful. Let's make this next year another great one that continues Jose's legacy of charity and generosity and life long belief in giving back to others.