Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
May 17, 2010
Fishing derby nets 22 wheelchairs
Family-focused fishing fun brought out 121 youngsters and dads
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
HIGH PRAIRIE - The McLennan/High Prairie Council of the Knights of Columbus wanted to host an event for families.
When they decided to host a fishing derby for kids at Winagami Lake Provincial Park last June, they had no idea how it would turn out.
The event exceeded all expectations. Organizers anticipated 75 children participating, and ended up with 121 registrations. Now Council 14462 is planning its second annual derby for June 12.
"I came up with this concept last year because I was looking for something to do with families, to encourage the dads in particular to do something with their kids," said Grand Knight Real Garant.
"So often the mom will take the kids out and the dad stays at home or watches the game and drinks beer. Our goal was to encourage them to go out with their kids."
Knowing that men tend to enjoy outdoor pursuits, Garant looked on the Internet for possibilities. He found that fishing derbies were popular with families in the United States, some of them annual events for 60 years.
"I thought if we could incorporate that locally and make it a charity event at the same time, it would work well," said Garant.
The Knights' charity of choice was the Wheelchair Foundation. They purchase wheelchairs for $150 each for nursing homes, hospitals and individuals who otherwise could not afford them.
Aside from participation in the fishing derby, the $5 entry fee ($20 maximum per family) entitled every child a hot dog, pop and fishing lure. If the weather cooperates, Garant expects at least 150 participants this year.
A total of 75 businesses donated more than $1,000 in cash and prizes, mostly fishing and camping supplies. They awarded prizes for the largest fish in each of four species, and most fish caught per age group (10 and under, 17 and under).
Aside from the actual fishing prizes, 43 other items were raffled off. Prizes included lawn chairs, lanterns, sleeping bags and tents.
Money brought in through registration fees, raffle and concession earned the Knights enough money to buy 22 wheelchairs. Two were donated to a nursing home in High Prairie.
"We were hoping for the best. We had no clue what was going to happen, but we decided that we were going to try it one year and see how it goes. Obviously it was a success. We're doing it again this year, and we're going to try making it annual as long as people are interested."
RULES, RULES, RULES
A lot of rules must be followed to hold a competitive fishing event on provincial waters. Red tape, bureaucracy, filling out forms, and following the proper protocol became Garant's responsibilities over the months leading up to the derby.
To make it fair for everybody, no boats were allowed. The fishing derby was catch and release, and no fish died during the competition. A measuring station and weigh station were set up along the breakwater.
"We had several teams of knights who were handling the fish, so the kids would catch a fish and the knights would help unhook them. They'd bring them in containers of lake water to the weigh station. They'd measure and weigh the fish, and record all of that information underneath their name."
The children could catch as many fish as they wanted and the knights helped them release the fish back into the lake.
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