For the City Times
Organizers of the Dan Sandstrom Walleye Tournament raised $16,850 for United Way of Portage County’s Learn for Life at their event Saturday, Aug. 1, on the Wisconsin River in Stevens Point.
The tournament attracted 64 teams competing for $4,870 in prize money. Placing first in the tournament were Robin Engum and Matt Korpel who took home $1,000 for the win. The largest walleye was weighed in by Ed and Doug Kruzitski who took home $195 for the catch.
Monetary prizes were also awarded to the other top 19 finishers in the tournament. The mystery fish (bluegill) category this year was won by Dwaine Engebretson and Brian Wierzba who won two $100 fishing rods for the accomplishment.
Moose Lodge was the host site where a Kids’ Casting Contest, tournament results and fundraiser were held. Vallin said a record number of kids participated in the casting contest.
“The community support for the tournament, raffle and Kids’ Casting Contest is amazing,” said Rollie Vallin, tournament organizer, who started the event as a tribute to his late brother-in-law, Dan Sandstrom. “To be able to honor Dan through a fishing tournament and then to help the community by raising money for United Way’s Learn for Life program is what he would have wanted.”
All monies raised through the raffle were given to Learn for Life, which is a unique collaboration between United Way and 14 elementary schools in Portage County. The goal of Learn for Life is to increase reading achievement in our community so that children in Portage County are proficient in reading by the time they finish third grade.
Laura Pfeil, United Way of Portage County Community Initiatives Associate, said this donation is especially important because the program is expanding into additional schools in Portage County this school year, as well as into second grade in the Stevens Point Area School District. “Learn for Life is helping kids learn to read, so they will read to learn,” said Pfeil. “Rollie and his family, through their generosity, have given a huge gift to this community.”
Pfeil said the program is still looking for additional tutors who can commit to one hour per week during the school day to help students with their reading proficiency. “With the continued expansion of the program, we need volunteers who want to make a difference in the lives of children in our community by volunteering only an hour a week,” she said.