MILFORD, Mich. — Sleep deprivation may have been dripping from Tim Horton’s eyes as he conducted media interviews from his Nitro boat, but his congenial smile was still there.
Horton, with help from friend Mike Johnson, had trailered 20 hours from Sunday’s Bassmaster Elite Series Toledo Bend Battle finals to arrive here in Milford, Mich., minutes before the start of the KVD/Detroit Lions Charity Bass Tournament on Tuesday.
“When Kevin asked me in February to help out, we knew it could be a tough turnaround if we made the finals,” said Horton, who finished 6th at Toledo Bend some 36 hours earlier. “But there was no way I could say no to Kevin.”
VanDam didn’t make the finals but still had to hustle back to Michigan to help his wife, Sherry, set up for the mammoth undertaking. Likewise for fellow Elite pros Jonathon VanDam and rookie Michael Simonton, along with a B.A.S.S. tournament staff that conducted the Toledo weigh-in, emcee Dave Mercer, and The Bassmasters TV co-host Mark Zona.
“Given the Lions’ schedule and our (Elite pros) schedule, this was one of the few windows of opportunity we had,” explained VanDam.
The Charity event was held on Kent Lake near Detroit, matching Elite and regional bass pros with Detroit Lions football players in a cause to raise money for both VanDam and the Lions’ charities. Football fans paid to share a boat with a pro angler and NFL players during a four-hour event.
The Lions were also pressed for time as their three-day minicamp opened that morning. The 24 participating players and coaches left the football field at 10:15 a.m. to arrive at the lake prior to its Noon start.
Horton, meanwhile, slept a few hours in the back of his truck while Johnson drove, and even stopped by home to spend time with his kids.
Horton chose to stay in Michigan for a few days prior to next week’s Elite Series Mississippi Rumble at La Crosse, Wis., followed immediately by the Green Bay Challenge.
“I’ll do a little smallmouth bass fishing around Michigan before I head over to La Crosse,” he explained.
Horton knows about charity work. He has conducted his own “Fishing for Kids” event in Alabama for the past 14 years.
The KVD/Lions event may have added a little stress to his schedule, but Horton says it was worthwhile.
“It’s important when you can do it; it’s a way we can give back for all the things the sport has done for us,” Horton offered. “But with Kevin’s influence and to team up with the Detroit Lions, that makes it even more special.” See more photos from the event.