During my project this past summer, I was able to raise more than 700 dollars for the Melanoma Research Foundation. The sum might seem either large, for one single person, or small, considering the the millions we’ve contributed toward cancer in the past without finding a cure.
But the money raised is not what I’m most grateful for.
Anyone who knows me knows that for the most part I took up writing because I’m a quiet guy. I’m usually the one in the room listening or at best cracking a wry joke here and there. Talking is not my strong suit.
I undertook the project largely as a leap of faith, knowing that I was a fisherman, a photographer and a writer, and that I needed in some way to combat this illness that had come into my life, but I didn’t have much more of a plan than that.
At the age of 24 I slept in the back of my Jeep Wrangler for 200 nights and did a project for Outdoor Life Magazine called Fish America, fishing my way from Maine down through the Keys, across to California, up to Seattle and back home to the Northeast.
Because of the scope and duration of the project, it seems and seemed to me to be the most impressive thing I’d ever done, although that’s not saying much. But because it was, I decided to use that means, that platform, a traveling, fish-catching expedition, to try to bring skin-cancer awareness to an angling audience.
That’s how I came up with the idea for Catch a Cure. But an idea is just that, a suspended thought, left adrift in time if not moved by the force of action.
What I’m grateful for is the amount of support that I found in Florida to get behind my mission. I never, in a thousand years, would have expected the Florida guiding community to come out of the woodwork in the way they did to fight cancer. So, so many guides from the Panhandle to the Keys spent a day on the water to raise money for Melanoma Research, and it astounded me each time they signed up to give of their time, knowledge and effort.
I can’t even begin to list them all in this blog, but Todd, Steve and Brett, you guys are just a few of the so many who helped me. These guys, and the others who work for Bassonline, truly embody the notion that being an outdoorsman necessitates being a man first, and that there’s more that goes into that than I’ll try to touch on here.
So many others have gotten on board, from Buff Headwear to Sunology Sunscreen to Native Eyewear. The project wouldn’t have been a reality if Florida Sportsman hadn’t gotten behind it, and editor Jeff Weakley hadn’t taken his own time to get me on the water. I truly have more, this year, to be grateful for than I have in many years past, and if you’re reading this, I’m grateful for that, too.