AIM’s $10,000 Gift To Support ‘South Dakota Youth Fishing For Freedom’

Category: press release

 Aug 17th, 2010 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified Aug 17th, 2010 at 12:00 AM

AIM’s $10,000 Gift To Support
‘South Dakota Youth Fishing For Freedom’

    Akaska, SD-Starting in 2011, all South Dakota youths with a parent deployed in the Armed Forces will have the opportunity to enjoy an expenses-paid trip to fish Lake Oahe during summer, thanks to a $10,000 grant awarded today by the AIM Pro Walleye Series here.

Brian Keller, right, Bill Waeckerle, left

   The grant, made by the only professional fishing circuit in North America to give back to nonprofit organizations in the communities it visits, will help fund “South Dakota Youth Fishing For Freedom,” according to Bill Waeckerle, president of the South Dakota Walleye Classic & Festival, which routinely draws up to 6,000 spectators to this tiny town of around 35 permanent residents next to Lake Oahe. This year’s Classic & Festival was Aug. 11-15.

    Brian Keller of the J.J. Keller Foundation presented Waeckerle the check on behalf of AIM during the final day’s virtual weigh-in at AIM’s tournament here on Saturday (Aug. 14). AIM’s tournaments use a unique catch-record-release format. Fish are measured, photographed and released back into the water unharmed, and a computer program determines the weight to the nearest hundredth of a pound at the weigh-in.

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    An AIM pro and owner who competed in the tournament, which was the centerpiece of the Walleye Classic & Festival here, James Keller also is president and COO of J. J. Keller & Associates, of Neenah, Wis., the world’s largest publisher and servicing agent covering rules and regulations for transportation logistics, OSHA workplace safety, and human resources regulations.

    “Both AIM and the J.J. Keller Foundation are extremely proud to support the effort that the South Dakota Walleye Classic & Festival is announcing to benefit the children of the Mount Rushmore State whose parents are serving our country. We are very happy to give these youngsters this opportunity, some of whom may be going fishing for the first time in their lives,” says Keller. “Nonprofits like the Classic use the funds AIM donates to promote fishing and encourage a new generation to enjoy the outdoors, and hopefully walleye fishing in particular,” Keller adds, “and this donation has special meaning for every pro here because of how it will be used.”

    “This is not a one-time-only event,” explains Waeckerle. “We will continue the South Dakota Youth Fishing For Freedom program on an ongoing basis as long as we have deployed soldiers, thanks to the gift from the J.J. Keller Foundation and AIM. Both have been very generous to local organizations where there is an AIM Pro Walleye Series tournament, providing funds for the opportunity for young men and women to become involved in fishing and other outdoor activities.”

    “The South Dakota Walleye Classic & Festival has recognized for years the importance of youth fishing,” Waeckerle adds. “We’ve sponsored a youth tournament at each of our three Classics. With the opportunity that the J.J. Keller Foundation is giving us, it’s our intent to offer this fishing event for the youth of deployed soldiers from all across South Dakota, so these kids have an opportunity to go fishing when they otherwise may not be able to because of the deployment of a parent or parents.”

    “It’s one small way that the South Dakota Walleye Classic & Festival can recognize the tremendous burden that these families and their children must bear during our war on terror,” Waeckerle says.

    As many as 300 youths will be invited to Akaska each summer starting in 2011. Waeckerle said that the support from AIM and the J.J. Keller Foundation would help organizers to cover all costs for lodging, meals and fuel.

    Plans include having local anglers from Akaska, where seemingly every resident has at least one boat, to join with volunteers from across the state in taking youngsters on the water.

    “We plan to fill up all the area motels, and we will also house as many as possible with local families in the area as well,” Waeckerle says. “Our emphasis on the development of fishing on Lake Oahe and promoting South Dakota fishing is on seniors and youths. And this is our way to show the families of our soldiers that South Dakota cares about their sacrifices.”

    For more information on the program, contact Bill Waeckerle at 605-649-6282 or 605-850-9738. For more information on the donations by AIM and the J.J. Keller Foundation, contact AIM CEO Scott Matheson at 920-526-3399, or 920-889-1520.

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