Four food panties in Braidwood, Wilmington, Gardner and Coal City will be able to provide nearly 280,000 meals combined to area families thanks to proceeds received from Exelon Nuclear Braidwood Generating Station’s “Fishing for a Cure” charity tournament held Saturday, May 19.
Exelon Nuclear’s 11th annual fishing tournament raised more than $46,000 that will be equally shared amongst the Community Care Center (Braidwood), Kuzma Care Cottage (Wilmington, Ill.), Church of Hope Food Pantry (Gardner, Ill.) and Coal City Food Pantry (Coal City, Ill.). Each organization provides meals to area families facing undernourishment.
Every dollar donated provides six meals to those in need, according to Northern Illinois Food Bank, who is one of the main organizations that helps to supply food. Bulk purchases and food donations help keep costs down for the pantries.
“More than 85,000 of our neighbors in Will and Grundy County are at risk of hunger. Because of this generous donation from Exelon, hundreds of thousands of meals will be provided for them in their time of need,” said Pete Schaefer, president and CEO, Northern Illinois Food Bank.
“This event was a great opportunity for our community to bring in so many out-of-towners and show off our beautiful area,” said Pam Roth, Illinois State Representative for the 7th district. “It also has provided an important helping hand to those in need. I thank Exelon and all the supporters of this event for creating one of the great showcases of the year and great way to kick off the summer season.”
One hundred, two-person teams from around the Midwest competed in the tournament. John Novak of Shorewood, Ill. and Jim Rura of Morris, Ill. took home first place and the $4,000 top prize. Their three fish total of 11.10 pounds was best in the tournament field and a tournament record for a three fish limit. Novak also broke the tournament record by landing the biggest bass weighing in at 5.64 pounds.
“The conditions on the lake were perfect, and the fish were biting all day for us,” Rura said. “In competitive fishing, you have good days and not-so-good days. This was obviously a great day.”
Coming in second was Jay O’Connell of Minooka, Ill. and Carl Carpenter of Romeoville, Ill. as they caught 10.32 pounds and won $2,500. Third place and $1,000 was snared by Jeff and John Odeen of Wilmington, Ill. Other teams shared the remaining $2,500 in prize money.
More than 80 young anglers had the opportunity to compete in their own fishing derby held at the Godley Park District pond. Winners in the five and-under group were Riley Stevens of Ransom, Ill. (first place), Carson Rogers of Wilmington, Ill. (second place) and Audrey Conquest of Shorewood, Ill. (third place). Winners in the 6 to 8-year old group included Ethan Mann of Braidwood, Ill. (first place), Micah Crisp of Braidwood, Ill. (second place) and Ceejay Dixon of Braidwood, Ill. (third place). In the 9 to 12-year-old group, first place went to Bobby Mann of Braidwood, Ill. Brendan Wiggins of Godley, Ill. took second place and Ashley Chojanicki of Crest Hill, Ill. took third.
Wiggins also snared the longest fish (22 inches) of the children’s derby. Paige Michalec of Braidwood, Ill. hauled in the shortest fish (4 inches).
More than 40 volunteers including employees and family members from Braidwood Station and the Reed Custer High School Bass Fishing Club staffed the event. Braidwood Station employees Brian Daniels and Steve Friddle served as weigh in officials and ESPN’s Chauncey Niziol served as the tournament host.
“Our employees at Braidwood Station and Exelon Corporation as a whole are proud to be able to help these wonderful organizations who are doing important work in our community,” said Braidwood Site Vice President Dan Enright. “We are part of the community and feel a responsibility to contribute to the community’s well-being. This event is an important part of meeting that responsibility.”
Braidwood Station and several local sponsoring businesses and organizations made contributions to the event. All proceeds raised through tournament entry fees, raffles and sponsorships go to the recipient charities, which are selected annually by station employees. Organizations and businesses contributing to the cause included:
T&C Anglers and Antlers
In its 11-year history, Exelon Nuclear’s “Fishing for a Cure” has raised more than $245,000 for charity. Previous charities benefiting include the Beth Ann Miller Foundation in its fight against Bacterial Meningitis (2002 - $5,000); the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation - Chicago Chapter (2003 - $7,500); the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Center (2004 - $13,000); the Multiple Sclerosis Society (2005 - $16,000); the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Illinois (2006 - $20,400); CURE - Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (2007 - $21,000); FAAN - Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (2008 - $26,000); Autism Speaks (2009 - $20,000); Operation MOMS Cookies (2010 – $28,000) and Wounded Heroes Foundation, Inc. (2011 - $41,000).
Captions for the photos in the gallery...
Start of Event – Anglers prepare for the start of Fishing for a Cure 2012. The event raised more than $46,000 for local food pantries.
Winners – Jim Rura (left) of Morris, Ill. and John Novak of Shorewood, Ill. took home the first place and the $4,000 top prize. The team landed a total of 11.10 pounds of bass a tournament record for a three fish limit. Novak also landed the largest bass of the tournament (5.64 pounds – also a tournament record).
Smallest Fish – Paige Michalec of Braidwood, Ill. shows off her trophy and prize for catching the shortest fish in the children’s fishing derby.