Annual ice-fishing contest in Austin raises about $12,000 for the Institute’s cancer research

AUSTIN – Monday, February 13 — With about 270 people ice fishing – more than double the previous high for a turnout in its 10-year history – “Fishing for a Cure” recently netted nearly $12,000 in donations for The Hormel Institute’s world-renowned cancer research.

Organizers for the annual ice-fishing contest – Jim Nelson and Duane Smith – presented a check for $11,887 on Monday to The Hormel Institute. That total is nearly four times higher than the event’s previous donation high of $3,101 from the 2011 “Fishing for a Cure.”

More than 50 fish were caught during the two-hour contest Feb. 4, with first place for the biggest fish going to Dan Lenz, of Austin, for catching a largemouth bass weighing 1 pound, 13 ounces. Money from the contest was raised through entry fees, donations, raffles and auctions.

All donated funds will go 100 percent directly to the Institute’s research into ways to prevent and control cancer.

Since 2009, “Fishing for a Cure” has raised money specifically to support The Hormel Institute’s cancer research. In those four years, “Fishing for a Cure” has raised more than $18,600 for the Institute, and now will get a new “Gold Level” plaque on the Institute’s Donor Recognition Wall.

“We deeply appreciate our friends from ‘Fishing for a Cure’ and how hard they work to make this event successful,” said Dr. Zigang Dong, Executive Director of The Hormel Institute. “The story of their contribution and how together we further cancer research is one we can all appreciate. Everyone who supported this tournament knows they are part of work that will lead to a cancer-free world – it is a worthy goal and we are grateful for our collaboration.”

This year, “Fishing for a Cure” changed locations for its ice fishing contest as well as its post-event gathering that features an auction, meal and door prizes. This year was the first “Fishing for a Cure” at East Side Lake after the contest annually had been hosted on the Cedar River above the Ramsey Dam near the Old Mill Restaurant. Participants then gathered this year at the Eagles Club following the contest.

“Everyone is affected by cancer in one form or another,” Nelson said. “Those of us who organize and participate in ‘Fishing for a Cure’ want to support cancer research happening right here in Austin. The efforts we have seen from participants and local businesses toward cancer research have been incredible.”

“Fishing for a Cure” started with a few coworkers getting together to ice fish and grew into a friendly competition, with each participant paying $5 and all of the money going to the person who caught the biggest fish.

After a few years, the contest drew more participants from throughout southern Minnesota as well as businesses seeking to donate prizes. That is when the organizers decided to donate the contest’s money to The Hormel Institute for cancer research.

On Wednesday, officials who led Austin’s first “Paint the Town Pink” festivities will announce the donations to date from the overall citywide effort, which was created this year to extend the success and fun of the Austin Bruins’ “Paint the Rink Pink” hockey game. The “Fishing for a Cure” donation, along with the $38,124 donation by the Austin Bruins from “Paint the Rink Pink,” will be part of that overall, citywide total.

The Hormel Institute is a world-renowned medical research center in Austin specializing in research leading to cancer prevention and control.