Benefit to be held for ailing Florida fisherman

The Cortez community is hosting a Bradenton benefit for the long-time commercial fisherman, who was diagnosed with throat cancer last year. The profits will help with his medical bills.

Gearing up for stone crab season, which begins in October, has been a little harder this year.

Mike O’Leary, 56, has been commercial fishing out of Cortez for more than two decades. Normally you would find him tending to his crab traps in the gulf or fishing the inshore grass flats, but recently something has been keeping him from getting out on  the water in his “ol’ wooden boat, Keegan,” which he named after his son. As O’Leary put it, he just doesn’t have the “giddy up and go” any more.

O’Leary, a fourth-generation Bradenton native, was diagnosed with cancer last year and is currently undergoing radiation therapy. While a life at sea offers many benefits — open air, liberty and landscape — health insurance isn’t one of them.

“It’s been hard,” O’Leary said. “I want so badly to get out there and get to work, but I’m just too weak. Instead I’ve been having an Andy Griffith bonanza.”

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