Sporting community rallies for a cause at ice fishing tournament

The generosity of the sporting community never ceases to amaze me. Although sometimes we bicker among ourselves, in the end I believe the fraternity existing among sportsmen, and the fractions thereof, is as strong as can be. Especially when it comes to philanthropy. 

For the last four years I’ve been involved in helping organize what was a small, family-themed ice fishing tournament on Glen Lake, a popular fishery in the Lake George region of Warren County. The fish and game club I belong to used to have a tournament here but gave up on it after a few years of mediocre attendance and participation. 

Then, in 2014, a New York State trooper named David Cunniff was killed on the New York State Thruway while in the line of duty. Cunniff had family ties to the Lake George region and also has a young son who suffers from a disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). The proprietor of a restaurant on Glen Lake wanted to resurrect the ice fishing derby in his honor and asked if I’d assist. Of course, I was all in, and for three years we’ve successfully held the tournament to raise funds for a New York State troopers’ fund that specifically supports SMA research. I have to admit, we were pretty proud of ourselves. 

Tragedy struck again this past fall when another state trooper, Timothy Pratt from nearby Saratoga County, was killed, also while on duty. In his memory, the New York State troopers began accepting donations to their Signal 30 PBA fund, which supports law enforcement officers and their families in times of crisis and need. Everyone involved in the tournament felt that the Glen Lake ice fishing tournament should also support this fund, and so it came to be. 

Word quickly got out shortly after the holidays about the tournament, which was held Jan. 28. While nearby large bodies of water in the region like Lake George and the Sacandaga Reservoir had little or no ice, Glen Lake had plenty. Local sports shops got involved in helping promote the tournament and one shop owner not only helped with the weigh-in but brought bait as well. 

And so the anglers came, more than twice as many as usual — 238 in all, compared to about 100 on average at past tournaments. Not only did they spend the morning fishing on the lake, they purchased raffle tickets and made donations. Combined with several other generous donations, the tournament raised over $13,000 for the two funds supported. Those of us involved in the tournament found ourselves in complete amazement, even though things got a little chaotic at times. 

There are times when I’m downright proud to be a sportsman and this day was surely one of them. Once again I was shown by my angling peers what can be accomplished when such a fraternity gets together to support a particular cause, which in this case has absolutely nothing to do with fishing but everything to do with anglers simply helping their fellow man.

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