Lions event a huge success

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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.

No matter what you do in life, hard work and attention to details will reward you with positive results.

That was evident this week during the KVD/Detroit Lions Charity event, a monumental undertaking that began a year ago when the Lions contacted me to join them in a fund-raiser.

The Lions took care of the venue and we handled the planning for the tournament, all of which came off without a hitch. In fact, the two dozen Lions players and coaches that participated were so pleased we’ve already begun plans for next year. (See photos of the event here.)

My wife, Sherry, carried a lot of the burden while I was out on the tournament trail, but my hat also goes off to the Bassmaster tournament staff, volunteers and boat captains who did an outstanding job of making the experience enjoyable to everyone. B.A.S.S. brought in its stage and weigh-in facilities and conducted the event just as it would a professional tournament.

The fishing was held on a public lake near Detroit. Sponsors paid to fish with a bass pro and a Lions player, plus we sold 100 tickets at $100 each to fans to attend the private gathering. The final figure hasn’t been tabulated, but we raised several thousand dollars that will be split between my charities and those that the Lions support, both of which involve youth activities.

I think it marked the first time that competitive bass fishing and the NFL combined efforts for such an endeavor, and I challenge other Elite pros to consider a similar project with their in-state NFL teams.

How cool would it be to someday pit Detroit Lions teams (bass pros, players and sponsors) against Chicago Bears teams and raise even more money for charity?

It was evident that the football players embraced competitive bass fishing. They told me how much they enjoyed the fishing and fellowship with our boat captains and sponsors. There was a lot of trash talking and side bets going on which added to the fun atmosphere. Most of the players stuck around afterwards and said they look forward to next year.

According to Coach Jim Schwartz, there was quite a buzz in the locker room during the next day’s practice at Mini Camp as the players were reliving the fun they had the day before.

Several said it was the most fun they’d had a charity event and promised to sharpen their skills before next year.

I’ve decided that next year we’ll change the rules and allow boat captains’ fish to count in the day’s catch. This year, captains could fish but their bass couldn’t be included in their teams’ catches.

It hurt our chances. When the tournament started, I was showing my team members (Coach Schwartz and two Bass Pro Shops Sweepstakes winners, Kurt and Todd Keller of Rochester, N.Y.) how to fish a Strike King Caffeine Shad through the grass, and caught a 4-pounder! Sadly, we had to release it. Next year, the captain's fish will count toward the team’s five-fish limit.

Of course, this is all about having fun and raising money, but the NFL players are as competitive as the anglers and want to win, too.

The prizes consisted of cool merchandise and trophies, but when you’re a competitor, the braggin’ rights are priceless.

Remember, it’s all about the attitude!     

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