Catching a cure

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Western New York has found a
way to use fishing as an important part of their fundraising
effort, a near-perfect marriage as both individuals and companies
work together to catch a cure for this debilitating disease.

It started with the Greater Niagara BassEye competitions,
spearheaded by Bob Rich, Jr., of Buffalo (and Rich Products) 10
years ago. Held on Lake Erie in July and combining the species of
bass and walleye, this contest has raised over $1.2 million the
past decade for CF research. Amazing!

Not to be outdone, Lewiston has put together its own phenomenal
fundraiser in September and I was proud to be a part of it. The CF
Lower Niagara River Sport Fishing Challenge was held Sept. 14-15
and local chairman was Gary Hall of Niagara Falls. His WTS business
in Lewiston was the vehicle to get companies involved and they
united to catch a cure. While the fleet of boats on the water was
one-third the size as their Erie County neighbors, when the money
was counted at the end of the two days it showed they raised in
excess of $102,000!

For the most part, local charter captains donate their time to
make this happen. And their only reward – outside of some nice
plaques – is the satisfaction that they are helping a good cause.
Did I mention the friendly competition, too?

The two days of fishing was intense and a new scoring system was
being used this year. Salmon, trout, bass, walleye, musky and pike
were all part of the mix. Catch any three of one species and earn
double the points. The most points were handed out for the toughest
fish to catch (musky and pike), scoring in at 1,000 points each. If
someone needed to make a rally, they could with those kinds of
numbers around.

Capt. Matt Yablonsky of Wet Net Charters in Youngstown had a
strategy to head east to Wilson Harbor and target northern pike
that first day. No one else thought about that. At the end of the
day, he had caught six northern pike with this team from Washington
Mills to build an insurmountable lead – especially with a front
coming through and lake access on day two difficult because of big
waves. Yablonsky, no stranger to the winner’s circle with a
consistent winning way during the Lake Ontario Counties Derbies,
was the top dog for this year.

This is one of those feel-good stories we need to hear more
about – sportsmen doing great things for a great cause behind the
scenes. No accolades, just a huge ‘thank you” from CF. And a huge
thank you to Gary Hall and company for leading the charge and
making the money end of things happen. You all make us proud!


Categories: New York – Bill Hilts Jr

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