Back in May, the St. Bernard Autism Awareness Krewe raised more than $3,000 by auctioning off an alligator hunting trip with Swamp People’s Ronnie Adams at its annual Parish Derby, a major fundraiser for the group dedicated to identifying and assisting with the needs of St. Bernard families who have children, grandchildren, and family members with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other exceptionalities.

The four lucky winners of the alligator hunt, representatives from Labat Construction, Burkhardts Air Conditioning and Coast Concrete Services, hit the waters in the early morning hours of Friday, Oct. 6 with Adams, local commercial fisherman Kim Serigne Jr. and Mark Vogt with Bayou Bowfishing Charters.

Adams, a Violet native, is a well-known alligator hunter who appears on Swamp People, a reality TV series that follows the day-to-day activities of alligator hunters living in the swamps of Louisiana who hunt alligators for a living.

“I’m so happy to have partnered up with all of these guys to help share the expertise I have from doing this for a living to not only help control the alligator population here, but also show the winners a good time and at the same time raise money for autism,” Adams said. “Being involved in this has been such a blessing to me and after meeting some of these wonderful children I am committed to continuing to do whatever I can to help.”

The hunters wrangled 15 gators during yesterday’s trip, which helps more than one cause according to Brian Clark, a retired state Wildlife and Fisheries agent.

“The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries facilitates an alligator management program in order to control the growing population and minimize contact between alligators and humans,” said Clark, a St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office Captain who oversees the Marine Division.

According to the LDWF website, Louisiana’s wild alligator population has increased from less than 100,000 to more than 2 million in the past 50 years.

“The Wildlife and Fisheries issues a certain number of alligator harvest tags for private lands prior to the start of the season each year,” Clark said. “It’s important we use all the tags allotted because if we didn’t we would be overrun with alligators.”

Brian Clark and his brother, Chad Clark, donated the use of their land and tags for the hunt in Violet, and fried up some shrimp and fish for the participants to enjoy when they returned to the dock.

“We are honored to have had an opportunity like this to help raise money for children with autism,” said Chad Clark, who is SBSO’s chief of detectives over the Criminal Investigations Bureau. “The bonus is that we also get to give people who don’t normally get to do this kind of hunting the opportunity to come out and hunt in a safe environment with experts.”

Sheriff James Pohlmann was at the dock to celebrate with the winners upon their return.

“This has been great to see everyone involved come together to support such a wonderful cause,” the Sheriff said.

Danny Dysart, president of the St. Bernard Autism Awareness Krewe, said the funds raised from the alligator hunting trip will not only help pay for the group’s programming throughout the year, which includes parent resources, swimming lessons, and sensory bags for first responders, but it also has helped pay for their new Sensory Trailer that will provide a safe and calming sensory experience for individuals with autism.

“The sensory trailer, which is expected to be delivered later this month, will be outfitted with different sensory tools, chairs and accessories and we expect it to be completed by the time of our Krewe’s annual Christmas party,” Dysart said “It will then be available to members of our community throughout the year at different public events.”

Dysart said the organization is grateful to everyone involved for making this project possible.

“Our Krewe would like to thank Ronnie Adams, Kim Serigne, Mark Vogt with Bayou Bowfishing Charters, Brian Clark and Chad Clark for this wonderful event,” Dysart said. “We also are appreciative of those who bid and won the auction. We look forward to continuing our partnerships with these great community members so we can continue providing wonderful resources to our families here in St Bernard.”