Big fish, big donations

Published 11:44 am Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Hormel Institute Executive Director Dr. Zigang Dong congratulates Jim Nelson, left, and Duane Smith, right, for raising $11,800 during the 10th-annual Fishing For a Cure event for The Institute. -- Adam Harringa/

‘Fishing for a Cure’ reels in $11,880

With about 270 people ice fishing — more than double the previous high for a turnout in its 10-year history — “Fishing for a Cure” netted nearly $12,000 in donations for The Hormel Institute’s world-renowned cancer research.

Organizers for the annual ice-fishing contest — Jim Nelson and Duane Smith — presented a check for $11,887 on Monday to The Hormel Institute. That total is nearly four times higher than the event’s previous donation high of $3,101 from the 2011 “Fishing for a Cure.”

“We’re really happy to be on board with The Hormel Institute and their research and finding a cure for a cancer,” Nelson said. “The community as a whole, they came together for this event and they came to fishing for a cure.”

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Participants caught more than 50 fish during the two-hour contest Feb. 4, with first place for the biggest fish going to Dan Lenz, of Austin, for catching a largemouth bass weighing 1 pound, 13 ounces. Money from the contest was raised through entry fees, donations, raffles and auctions.

All donated funds will go directly to The Institute’s research into ways to prevent and control cancer.

Since 2009, “Fishing for a Cure” has raised money specifically to support The Hormel Institute’s cancer research. In those four years, “Fishing for a Cure” has raised more than $18,600 for The Institute, and will get a “Gold Level” plaque on The Institute’s Donor Recognition Wall.

“We deeply appreciate our friends from ‘Fishing for a Cure’ and how hard they work to make this event successful,” said Dr. Zigang Dong, Executive Director of The Hormel Institute. “The story of their contribution and how together we further cancer research is one we can all appreciate. Everyone who supported this tournament knows they are part of work that will lead to a cancer-free world. It is a worthy goal and we are grateful for our collaboration.”

This year, “Fishing for a Cure” changed locations for its ice fishing contest as well as its post-event gathering that features an auction, meal and door prizes. This year was the first “Fishing for a Cure” at East Side Lake after the contest annually had been hosted on the Cedar River above the Ramsey Dam near the Old Mill Restaurant. Participants then gathered this year at the Eagles Club following the contest.

“Everyone is affected by cancer in one form or another,” Nelson said. “Those of us who organize and participate in ‘Fishing for a Cure’ want to support cancer research happening right here in Austin. The efforts we have seen from participants and local businesses toward cancer research have been incredible.”

“Fishing for a Cure” started with a few coworkers getting together to ice fish and grew into a friendly competition, with each participant paying $5 and all of the money going to the person who caught the biggest fish.

After a few years, the contest drew more participants from throughout southern Minnesota as well as businesses seeking to donate prizes. That is when the organizers decided to donate the contest’s money to The Hormel Institute for cancer research.