The sixth annual Angling for Autism bass fishing tournament to benefit The Learning Tree in Tallassee and the Little HAPIE Tree in Auburn is planned for Saturday, Nov. 9. The tournament will take place at Wind Creek State Park in Alexander City on Lake Martin.

"This directly benefits The Learning Tree and The Little HAPIE Tree Preschool," The Learning Tree resource development coordinator Stephanie Weldon said.

Angling for Autism is open to everyone and coordinators encourage anglers of all skill levels to take part in this tournament.

"This is for anyone who likes to fish," Weldon said.

Blastoff for the tournament is at safe daylight with weigh-in at 2 p.m. Entry fee is $120 per boat. First place will win $1,500 and 10 places will be awarded cash prizes.

$100 will be awarded to the top parent-child team and the top male-female team. There will be a $10 optional big fish pot with a 70/30 split in the proceeds. All proceeds benefit The Learning Tree schools to help children with developmental disabilities, including autism, learn and grow.

Because The Learning Tree is a nonprofit organization, it relies heavily on fundraisers such as this tournament to maintain the services it offers. The Learning Tree receives governmental grant funding, but it is often not enough to cover all the expenses incurred by the organization.

"We have to maintain six group homes," Weldon said. "We do get grant funding but that grant funding just doesn't cover everything."

There are also several sponsorships opportunities available for this event.

Founded in 1983, The Learning Tree is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing educational and residential services for children and adolescents with developmental disabilities, including autism. Today more than 600 children and families are served each year from more than 30 counties across Alabama. The majority of the children, ages 2 ½ to 21, have significant language and communication difficulties as well as challenging behaviors.

Currently, one in every 59 children is diagnosed with a form of autism. Autism is a complex developmental disability typically appearing during the first three years of a child's life as the result of a neurological disorder affecting the normal functioning of the brain. The need for services has grown rapidly with the increased prevalence of autism.

For tournament registration information or sponsorship opportunities contact Weldon at 334-415-9372 or sweldon@learning-tree.org. Those interested may also register on The Learning Tree’s website at www.learning-tree.org. There will also be registration on the day of the tournament.