HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Capital City Bassmasters is the top fundraising group for a local chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
For the past five years, the Capital City Bassmasters has held a Bass Classic buddy tournament that benefits the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
"We have raised more than $45,000 to date for the society," said Bob Herman, the club's public relations officer and the tournament coordinator. "We have a real soft spot for this charity."
The club first got involved 12 years ago when it set up a day of fishing for kids with leukemia, an event the club still holds the week before the Bass Classic. The club was holding an annual open tournament that raised a small amount of funds for the club, according to Herman, so he asked the members about converting the event into a fundraiser for the cancer society. "The first year we raised $5,200, and it has been going up ever since," said Herman.
Backed by corporate sponsors Computer Aid Inc. (CAI) and Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show, the Bass Classic is held every year during the Harrisburg Kipona Festival on Labor Day weekend. The tournament draws about 70 boats annually.
The National Leukemia and Lymphoma Society awarded the club a chairman's citation in 2008. "They are our top third-party fundraising group," said Beth Mihmet, executive director of the Central Pennsylvania chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. "Nobody does more than they do."
Herman describes the tournament and fishing day for kids afflicted with leukemia as "a labor of love for the club." The club invites leukemia-stricken children and their siblings to fish on a local pond, usually drawing 60 to 100 kids.
"A lot of them look forward to it," said Herman. "Some of the kids come in with walkers, and after they hook their first fish, they are standing up and walking. It's amazing what that adrenaline does to them."
The club provides the kids with a tacklebox and rod and reel, which they can take home with them. The fishing derby is funded in part by a grant the club received from the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association.