'Little Joe' Shuford succumbed to a rare form of cancer on March 1, 2005, and as a testament to his love of the outdoors, friends and family rallied to raise money for the memorial section of the Charleston 60.
"This reef project is really exciting, and we couldn't think of a better way to memorialize our son, a kid that loved the outdoors, than with the permanence of these concrete structures that improve fishing potential for others," father 'Big Joe' Shuford said.
The installment of 50 concrete reef balls last week brings the tally up to 250 fish structures so far on the 'Little Joe' memorial reef.
"Their ultimate goal has always been 500 concrete reef balls," said Bob Martore, reef coordinator with the SCNDR. "They have their own GPS coordinates to keep adding to when funding allows new additions."
There are 50 more reef balls ready to deploy at the 'Little Joe' reef in May. The price of 100 reef balls in 1995 was roughly $15,000, while the same amount today costs about $20,000 as the price of concrete continues to rise.
Funding has been going strong with friends Joey Gladden, Will Brown and Joey Petrides continuing to raise awareness for the 'Little Joe' reef. They sell bumper stickers and promote an annual Joe's Buddy fishing tournament, which raises funds for reef-ball purchases. This year's tournament will be Sept. 10 and it will raise money for more than just reef balls.
"Last year, they purchased five laptop computers for the use of cancer patients at MUSC hospital so that they can Skype with their friends," said Shuford.
Regular diving and video surveys by SCDNR document the presence of marine species at the Charleston 60 reef.
"In the 90's we added a 240-foot barge to the Charleston 60 reef and many armored personnel carriers, plus some experimental steel pyramid structures," Martore said. "The variety of structure at this reef has made it a tremendous success because it gets a lot of fishing pressure, yet it continues to remain a consistent producer."