A charitable success thanks to help from friends

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Kevin VanDam

Kevin VanDam

In the world of professional bass fishing, Kevin VanDam is at the pinnacle and arguably the best in the world.

Now that we’ve put another successful Bass Pro Shops KVD Charity Classic with the Detroit Lions behind us, it’s time to focus on the next item of business – the Diet Mountain Dew Mississippi Rumble presented by Power-Pole!

But before I get into that, I want to thank everyone who participated in our event, especially the boat captains including Michigan regional pros and the Elite guys who helped out.

They all took time out from their families and busy schedules to help us make this a success.

And the reason they do it is because they are passionate about what they do, regardless of whether it’s a full-time job or a love of the sport. The enthusiasm and knowledge they bring is a huge reason the event is so well received by Lions players and sponsors. I can’t tell you how many conversations I overheard where the anglers were explaining our sport, the science behind how we fish and the techniques we use. Those players and sponsors came away with a better understanding that there’s more to bass fishing than luck when it comes to catching fish.

A special thanks also goes to B.A.S.S. co-owner Jerry McKinnis for having the vision to support this endeavor and provide such quality staff to help us.

The tournament staff and weigh-in stage added a level of professionalism you don’t find at many charity fishing tournaments. It was a big financial and manpower commitment on their part.

But Jerry shares my vision and knows this is for a good cause. We’re still tallying the final number, but it looks like we made about $88,000 that will be split between our charities and the Lions’ “Living for the City” program group that supports Greater Detroit community development programs.

Sherry and I have a number of groups we support, but we’re currently setting up a foundation to focus on Michigan youth fishing opportunities and conservation projects. It’s my way of giving back to the state where I was fortunate to have many fishing opportunities that a lot of kids don’t have these days.

We’re already talking with Lions officials about how we can make next year’s Charity Classic even better.

After two years, we have a good model in place. Jerry has said he loves the concept and would like to see it spread to other communities and pro teams. I could see other anglers doing similar projects with teams in their region. With hard work, it’s possible!

Speaking of work, I’m gearing up for next week’s tournament at La Crosse, Wis. A lot of the Elite anglers that helped with the charity have been hanging out at my place for a few days before we all venture toward Wisconsin.

We’re not sure about what to expect since there have been a lot of storms passing through that area lately. Even though the tournament is held at the same time of year, things are different. Winter ran longer and the fish may be in different stages, plus the water levels could be different due to the weather.

One thing is for sure – it’s a great fishery with lots of bass. We’ll go into next week’s practice with an open mind and figure out what they’re doing.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!

Kevin VanDam's column appears weekly on Bassmaster.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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