You’ve undoubtedly already heard a version of this story, whether in your daily newspaper or while scrolling Facebook in the days following the accident. But, fortunately for Freeman, this is not the end of this story. Because this is Mount Pleasant.
It’s not often that you meet someone nowadays who was born and raised in Mount Pleasant, but Freeman can claim that rare title. His father owned a shrimp boat for many years, and he grew up on the Winds of Fortune, shrimping alongside his uncle, the late Wayne Magwood. “I’ve worked on every boat on the creek,” touted Freeman. “It’s a hard business, but I love doing it.”
Early last summer, Freeman finally realized the dream of owning his own shrimp boat. He and Magwood drove up to Harkers Island, North Carolina, where he bought the Miss Kim. “We brought her back down the intracoastal together,” he reminisced, clearly moved by the memory of spending that precious time with his uncle before his untimely death just a few months later. Freeman spent the rest of the year getting the boat ready, and this was set to be his first shrimping season.
Amazingly, the first that I heard of this story was not through a news channel, but rather a post in the “Lowcountry Eat Out!” group sharing a GoFundMe link that had been set up after the accident. That is how quickly the shrimping community, and our Mount Pleasant community, in turn, leapt into action to help a shrimper in need.
Grace Edwards was out of town when she received news of the boat capsizing. Edwards is the founder and director of Shem Creek Fisheries, a nonprofit organization supporting local fishermen, and she immediately began contacting their supporters. Everybody quickly stepped in to help, and her initial GoFundMe raised $10,950 to aid Freeman, including large donations from Acme Lowcountry Kitchen and Grace & Grit. “The ‘creekers’ who grew up in the Old Village are always so supportive, and it’s incredible to see new people step up when we need help. Everyone wants to see the creek be successful,” she said.
At 11 a.m. on the day of the accident, Renee Rector Suggs, the daughter of Geechie Seafood owner Warren Rector, received a phone call from her sister-in-law, sharing the news. “I was so upset,” she remembered. “I called my friend Megan Brown (wife of Tarvin Seafood’s Donnie Brown), and we went down and met the rescue crew at the dock.” From there, the two friends immediately jumped to action, contacting long-time Shem Creek supporter Art’s Bar & Grill to set up a fundraiser. Within a matter of days, event invites were flying around the internet for the 3-hour event, featuring a silent auction and 50/50 raffle with 100% of the proceeds benefiting Freeman. “We set out a donation jar at Geechie Seafood and raised $600 in four days, just from customers coming in to pick up their weekly fish orders,” Suggs beamed.
Acme Lowcountry Kitchen again stepped up with 10 $100 gift certificates, fishing charter trips were donated and paintings offered by artists. Dog & Duck committed to donating a portion of the proceeds from every plate of shrimp they sold to the cause. The restaurant industry, though crippled by COVID-19, didn’t hesitate for a moment in their support of the fisherman who lost his boat on the first day of the shrimping season. “The way the town has come together has been amazing,” Freeman exclaimed. “I can’t believe how much support I’ve gotten.”
The story of Lockwood McCants Freeman IV and the Miss Kim is far from over, and that’s thanks to the support, care and heart of the community. No matter how big this town gets, or how much traffic we have, people move here from all over the country for that exact reason. It’s each and every one of our jobs to continue that tradition into the future, because it is not our beaches or our weather that make Mount Pleasant great. It’s our heart that truly makes this such a remarkable place to live.