Beating cancer, fish by fish

HEBRON, Conn. — Dylan Wawruck's love for fishing made every catch enjoyable; his love for his grandmother made every catch deeply meaningful.

Earlier this year, Wawruck, 13, was so distraught over the impacts a second bout with breast cancer had on his grandmother that he launched an awareness/fundraising campaign he dubbed Hooked on a Cure.

Promoted throughout his Hebron, Conn., hometown with fliers and Facebook, the program solicited sponsors to donate money for each fish he caught. Proceeds were earmarked for cancer research — in his grandmother's honor. He caught a variety of fish species, from bass to catfish to salmon.

The goal was 100 fish by year's end, but he didn't make that goal: He crushed it with 372. Nearly quadrupling his objective yielded $2,355.68, which he presented to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Dec. 9.

"I am very proud of myself because I didn't think I'd catch nearly that many fish," he said. "And I feel really happy that money that I raised is going to a good cause."

Wawruck, who makes his own lures and ties his own flies, said a 16-pound Shetucket River Atlantic salmon was his most memorable catch. Hopefully, he said, memories of his 2013 fundraiser will inspire others.

"I hope that people realize they should be doing good stuff, too," said Wawruck, whose grandmother is in full remission now.

Wawruck's mission spanned approximately 50 fishing trips. Most were in Connecticut, with a few Cape Cod outings.

"The beauty about this is he loves to fish," said Wawruck's father, Jim Wawruck. "He was able to do something he enjoyed while raising money. Every fish was like a feather in his cap toward his goal.

"It's great that he's learning about community service at such a young age. I think this experience is going to serve him rest of his life."

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