CHAMBERLAIN — Ladies, spool your fishing reels.
A unique fundraiser that combines angling with cancer awareness is being held again this weekend in Chamberlain. The event brings in an average of $10,000 annually to support people in central South Dakota who are fighting cancer.
It’s an all-ladies fishing tournament that’s been held in some form since 2012. Kelli Potter and Brenda Burull, both Chamberlain natives, began managing the fundraiser three years ago.
“We ourselves aren’t big anglers by any means,” Potter said. “This is not a super-competitive tournament or for people to win thousands of dollars. They’re there because of the event.”
The Fishing For a Cure tournament invites two- to four-person teams of women to venture out on the Missouri River near Chamberlain in search of walleye. Boats launch at 8 a.m. Saturday and hope to return with a livewell full of fish at 2 p.m.
Its origination years ago was to benefit the Susan G. Komen Fund, a charitable organization dedicated to fighting breast cancer. When the event nearly disbanded , Potter and Burull decided to take it on, but agreed it was important to help local people who are battling all sorts of cancer.
“So we decided if you stop doing it, you’re going to lose the momentum and the people in the community wanted to have some type of event,” Potter said. “Our attitude was, why reinvent the wheel? Let’s keep this going.”
At least 100 businesses and individuals from the area donate to the cause. There are live and silent auctions, which begin Friday during the rules meeting. The event takes year-round planning and has helped hundreds of people who live in Lyman, Brule and Buffalo counties.
The money that is brought in is eventually distributed in the form of $100 prepaid debit cards to cancer patients and their families.
“We have a couple cancer nurses that work with the cancer patients and they give the patients the cards, so we don’t know the names or how many they’re getting,” Burull said. “It just depends on the treatment how often they’re getting the cards.
“This organization personally helped me out,” she added. “My husband passed away of cancer four and a half years ago. And we had to go to Sioux Falls twice, rent an apartment for six weeks at a time. I’m pretty passionate about this organization, and they helped us out both times we had to go down there and stay.”
This year’s tournament theme is “Rosie the Riveter, Stronger Than Cancer.” Thirty-six teams were signed up as of Thursday, with plenty of room for more groups.
While the benefit is the main purpose of the event, fishing is important, too. The teams are allowed male captains who can run the boat, rig lines, net fish and unhook those walleye. There are also prizes for best decorated boats and top costumes.
Moving forward, officials said the plan is for the tournament to always being held on the final Saturday in June. For more information on the benefit, contact Potter at 605-730-1967 or Burull at 680-4494.