Hooking for Hope raises $16k for cancer charities

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The Hooking for Hope organizing committee presented a portion of its 2017 donation to Steppin’ Out in Pink. Pictured (from left) are SOIP honorary chairperson Heather Willis, Liz Bremmer, Terri Strandlie, Bonnie Fuller, Carol Hobart, SOIP spokesperson Debbie Kroner, Jackie Wachter, Jill Cox and Tammy Otteson. (Submitted photo)

By Correne Martin

The amount of money raised by the 14th annual Hooking for Hope fishing tournament June 3 was the most ever. More than $16,000 was collected through the Prairie du Chien fundraiser, hosted by the Sawmill Saloon, for breast cancer charities.

A total of 166 participants went out on the river, experienced beautiful weather and took home some fish, great memories and prizes from the auction and raffle following the tournament.

According to Jackie Wachter, event co-organizer, the number of participants was average, but there was still more funds brought in for several regional breast cancer awareness and patient support programs.

Organizations splitting the Hooking for Hope proceeds include Gundersen Health Systems’ Steppin’ Out in Pink and Paula’s Purse as well as Mayo Clinic’s Oasis. Steppin’ Out in Pink is a walk held every September in La Crosse, which helps to further local breast cancer initiatives, provide assistance to breast cancer patients in need, subsidize mammograms to the uninsured and underinsured and lend support to area cancer services. It received $10,000 from Hooking for Hope. Both Paula’s Purse and Oasis help fund necessities such as gas money, extra day care and other incidentals assumed by cancer patients and their families while battling cancer. Paula’s Purse received $4,000 this year and Oasis $2,000.

“We expanded the donations to Oasis this year because we do have some participants who have been patients of Mayo Clinic,” Wachter noted.

Before hitting the water, Steppin’ Out in Pink Spokesperson Debbie Kroner and Honorary Chair Heather Willis, gave participants an inspirational speech to motivate them.

In the fishing tournament, the honors of most fish caught went to the Sawmill Saloon team. Debrah Clubb, of the Country Stitches, caught the biggest fish, and Mardell Winter reeled in the smallest fish.

In the evening, the crew retired to the Sawmill for a successful auction, raffle sales, drinks and continued fun. Kim Gardner was the winner of a $500 Visa gift card, while Annette Caya-Schickert won $150 cash and Craig Thomas took home $100. Also given away were some Yeti coolers, donated by Bud Light, some fire rings and shepherd’s hooks donated by River Town Ironworks and Wolf Machine, and other nice prizes.

Scream Xtreme provided the music and their time for the night, Adams Auction coordinated the auction, Ma’s Bakery catered the meal and the Prairie du Chien Fire Department helped out with set up, take down and being auction spotters.

A unique addition to this year’s Hooking for Hope tournament was a pink door that each participant signed with the name of someone they know who is battling cancer or someone who may have lost that battle. This idea symbolized organizers’ and participants’ hope for “Shutting the door on cancer.”

To demonstrate how far Hooking for Hope has come since 2011, that year just $5,500 was donated to only one organization, the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

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