“We had 11 kids today who came in and fished with us,” said Amy Urick, public relations chairperson for the Tri-Cities Kiwanis, who sponsor the tournament. “We would have had 12, but sadly, one of them is back in the hospital this morning.”
This is the 12th year for the event, which was started by Earl O’Brien in honor of his wife, Urick said. The event began as a tournament for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“This tournament now has three beneficiaries — all pediatric care,” Urick explained. “We broadened it and brought in some kids from Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, so they come in and fish here.”
All net proceeds support pediatric care locally at North Ottawa Community Hospital and DeVos Children's Hospital, as well as nationally at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Tournament sponsors are assigned to professional charter boats for a morning of salmon fishing on Lake Michigan. Each boat holds up to six participants, and sponsors can invite anyone they wish — family, friends, employees or customers.
The tournament also offers fishing opportunities for young patients currently undergoing treatment at DeVos and sponsorship of patient VIP boats.
In addition to the fishing opportunity, participants were also treated to lunch and awarded prizes, depending on their catch.
“We run two tournaments a year — there’s one in May and one in July,” Urick said. “We had 14 boats today, and we’ll have more boats on July 28.”