db: Elite hearts

“And in the end…”

Dateline:  Lake Dardanelle, Arkansas

When our judgment comes, will it be the size of our bank account,

that counts.

When our judgment comes, will it be the number of Facebook friends,

that counts.

Will it be our diamonds, the number of cars in our garage, our diversified 401K,

that counts.

Will Gucci, get you into heaven.

I think not.

Hope not.

It is my personal belief that when judgment time comes it will be based on not what we took, but what we gave.

Don’t think we will be asked what’s in our wallet, pretty sure we will be asked, what’s in our heart.  Did you just take from people, or did you give to people as well.

Were you the Kind, in Man.

I do not cover millionaires.

This is not a sport of the wealthy, or the ruling class. We are a bunch of working stiffs out here. We’ve got mortgages, bank notes, financed cars, boats and 21% credit card interest.

Mainly, month to month guys. Some of us cash checks, some of us don’t. Some make the cut, some get cut.

We are the same people as the crowd who watches us. We look like them, we smell like them, we act like them, we pray like them.

Them’s us.

In all the sports I have ever covered, this sport, these anglers are the closest match to the their fans, of any. These anglers are the guys next door, the guy ahead of you in the Walmart line.

They are also the guy who will stop on the highway and help you change your flat tire, will loan you their truck when your kid moves out of the house, will pick up groceries for the old folks down the street and shoot hoops with the neighborhood children.

So it wasn’t a surprise to me that the Elite anglers started to reach out to me and Tackle The Storm Foundation with the desire to do what they could to help the young anglers who have lost all their fishing stuff to the recent tornadoes that have crushed many towns in the South. Not a surprise that they wanted to help get the kids back on the water, not at all.

But how they were going to do it, floored me.

Let me tell you a story.

“…the love you take…”

Tackle The Storm board member John Crews.Sometime this summer, in an Arkansas field near a small pond or lake, a young child will come up to the Tackle The Storm trailer and someone in the trailer will hand the child a brand new kids combo.

And it will be free, theirs to keep, and a B.A.S.S. Nation volunteer will take the child and set up the rod and reel, and then take them down to the pond or lake, and help the child catch a fish.

That simple gesture will put a little bit of normalcy back into the young angler’s life because they will once again have in their hands the Magic Wand of childhood, a fishing pole, have it back after losing it to the tornadoes of the spring.

And if their Daddy is standing there, if their Momma is standing there, or Grandpaw or Mema, and if that is the person who took the child fishing and they too have lost all their fishing stuff, from the trailer we will pull an adult rod and reel and give it to them as well.

So somewhere in an Arkansas field, I will hand to an adult angler a used rod and reel so they too can get back to fishing.

And as I hand it to them, and as they walk away, to once again fish with their child, I will follow them to the water and watch the child cast with their brand new rod and reel, and I will also watch the adult cast with their used rod and reel,

and I will smile,

and I may cry,

It is not what we take, but what we give,

and the adult will never know who it was that gave up a used rod and reel so they could fish.

They will never know they are fishing with,

a rod and reel used in tournaments and donated by,


Or Chris Lane.

Or Brandon Palaniuk.

Or Stephen Browning, John Crews, Mike Iaconelli, Ish Monroe, J Todd Tucker, Hank Cherry, Shaw Grigsby or Paul Elias.

I have been offered a bunch of money for the rods used by these, and other Elite anglers, all the time being told, “Look how many other rods and reels you could buy with the money…”

But the Elite rods and reels are not for sale, they are for giving.

There is something, to me anyway, intrinsically beautiful that a KVD used rod and reel can go from his hands, to a stranger’s hands, just because Kevin wanted to help.

None of them have said anything to me but, “Here, hope this helps.”

“…is equal to…”

Tackle The Storm co-founder Skeet Reese.Late one night, I get a text message from Skeet Reese, great friend and co-founder of Tackle The Storm and it says this, “hey, db, I’m going to donate $15 a pound for every fish I catch on Lake Dardanelle to Tackle The Storm to help the people in Arkansas.”

Skeet’s sponsors, Dick’s Sporting Goods matched his donation.  Ranger boats donated $1,000 dollars…Wright McGill also added $800, Lucky Craft Lures gave $500, and at the event on the last day of the tournament the B.A.S.S. Merchandise Vendor came up to me and said, “db, for every event shirt we sell today, we will donate $10”…they sold 52 shirts.

Then came Billy McCaghren with $20 a pound, John Crews, Shaw Grigsby, Paul Elias with $15 a pound…family members matched John Crews pound for pound with donations.

B.A.S.S. Emcee Dave Mercer said that he would do the same but will donate $15 a pound for the winning weight, whoever that turns out to be.

Mark Davis donated half his Leader Bonus for this week, $500

Elite anglers who didn’t make the cut, didn’t make a dime fishing this tournament, still honored their pledge and handed me cash out of their pocket.

All in all, Bassmaster Elite at Lake Dardanelle raised $10,745 and that money and every rod and reel given here in Arkansas will stay in Arkansas to help the anglers, young or old, of this state get back on the water.

“…the love…”

The boys make it to the final day.In a violent world of tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes, the most precious thing on earth is not gold, diamonds, or cash,

the most precious thing on this planet is,


Believe if you believe.

Wonder if you wonder.

If you want to bring peace, joy to your life, help others.

Be a giver, not a taker.  In your soul, you know that’s how it is supposed to be.

One last quick story:

As I was walking through the crowd here at Lake Dardanelle a young girl, maybe 5 or 6, came up to me and said, “Mr. Barone, this is for you…”

And she handed me 4 crumpled up $1 bills.

“…for the kids.”

Of all the money raised, those four crumpled bills, are the most important, the most valuable.

Because they came from, purity.

We have all lost the soul of the child, but those crumpled bills I took as a message to me, that it is the soul of the child we will need to pass through our judgment time.

The soul that loves, the soul that is kindness.

The soul that gives more than it takes.

The soul that lives,

in the,

Elite hearts.

“…you make.”

“The End”

The Beatles


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