Alex Cook got the opportunity to come to the 2019 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods via the Catch a Dream program and former Classic competitor Ryan Butler.
1 / 49
The 19-year-old was diagnosed with leukemia in September of 2017 shortly after his 18th birthday. He’s completed several stages of chemotherapy, and now he’s in the maintenance stage. But his passion for fishing hasn't wavered through this time.
2 / 49
He took photos throughout his time at the Bassmaster Classic, while he was at the Expo, takeoff and weigh-ins.
3 / 49
Here he is with Ryan Butler, the 2017 Bassmaster Team Champion representative that competed in the 2018 Bassmaster Classic.
4 / 49
Butler, his family and a supervisor with Catch a Dream were all in attendance as Cook was exposed to the behind the scenes of his first Bassmaster Classic.
5 / 49
Butler's goal was to share the amazing atmosphere of the Classic with someone else who may never get to experience it. It was his mission after qualifying for the 2018 Classic to raise money for the Catch a Dream foundation and have enough to give someone an outdoor experience they would never forget. He followed through and brought Alex and his family to Knoxville for what became the biggest Classic ever.
6 / 49
He met industry professionals from different companies ...
7 / 49
... including one of Butler's sponsors, Costa.
8 / 49
He met eight-time Bassmaster winner Mike McClelland.
9 / 49
McClelland knows Butler well as they both live at Table Rock Lake.
10 / 49
11 / 49
He went to the Mercury booth and was able to tell folks his story and share positive thoughts for people dealing with something similar.
12 / 49
People from all over the Classic were exposed to his story and came up to him to speak and shake his hand.
13 / 49
He met with Mercury pro anglers like Brian Snowden, Bernie Schultz and Greg Vinson.
14 / 49
The highlight of his trip was meeting fishing legend Bill Dance.
15 / 49
The pair shared an embrace ...
16 / 49
... and Dance chatted with him for a bit.
17 / 49
18 / 49
They took a couple of photos together.
19 / 49
20 / 49
Dance signed Cook's Bassmaster Classic pass.
21 / 49
22 / 49
Dance gave him a signed Tennessee hat along with a photo.
23 / 49
He met Bassmaster Elite Series pro Gary Clouse, who is also the President of Phoenix Boats.
24 / 49
He got to experience his first ever Classic weigh-in which took place in Thompson-Boling Arena.
25 / 49
He witnessed Chris Zaldain weighing the biggest bag of the tournament of more than 21 pounds.
26 / 49
Next was an iconic Gerald Swindle speech on stage.
27 / 49
He got out on the dock during takeoff one day and met photographer James Overstreet.
28 / 49
29 / 49
He also got his photo taken with numerous pros fishing in the Classic, including Bradley Roy.
30 / 49
Next up was Chris Zaldain.
31 / 49
The crowd was awesome to witness from the perspective of the anglers at the dock.
32 / 49
With Mark Daniels Jr.
33 / 49
With Micah Frazier.
34 / 49
With Brandon Palaniuk.
35 / 49
With Adrian Avena.
36 / 49
He took a photo with his stepdad Michael (right) and Brian (left) with Catch a Dream.
37 / 49
He witnessed eventual Classic winner Ott DeFoe doing some interviews.
38 / 49
Cook is still struggling with the effects of leukemia, but the great news was he and his family turned in his wheelchair a few weeks before the Classic which is remarkable. He also walked over 10,000 steps at the Classic on Saturday!
39 / 49
They watched the best anglers in the world launch from Volunteer Landing.
40 / 49
Some of the contenders and his favorite pros, including Justin Lucas.
41 / 49
Mike Iaconelli's Toyota Tundra is always a fan favorite.
42 / 49
43 / 49
It was a fun experience for Cook, who took it all in when he had a chance.
44 / 49
He met with Fred Roumbanis at the Expo.
45 / 49
They went backstage where the trucks and boats pulled through the arena.
46 / 49
He posed with Bobby Lane and Keith Poche.
47 / 49
Saw Iaconelli pull through.
48 / 49
Overall, the 49th Bassmaster Classic was special. But extremely special for young Alex Cook who has overcome so much just to experience the Super Bowl of Bass Fishing. Thank you to Catch a Dream, Ryan Butler and Alex's Family for giving him an experience he will never forget.