RAISING FUNDS Fishing Derby Reels ’Em In A youngster is all smiles after he hooks a fish. Big Lake Aurora Lions in Alaska are up for challenges: after all, they live in an area that has an average yearly snowfall of 60 inches. So it was no challenge to them to keep scads of chil-dren happily casting their lines during the club’s 6th annual fishing derby at the Montana Creek Campground. They did, however, have to send their club treasurer out to buy more prizes in Wasilla when they quickly realized that a record number of kids were competing. “We only had prizes for 100 kids, and we had a whopping turnout of 141 kids,” says President Ben Kleinenberg. Located 23 miles from Wasilla, Alaska’s sixth largest city, the 31-member club is one of two Lions clubs in Big Lake. Both the Aurora and Big Lake Lions clubs are strong sup-porters of Alaska’s Camp Abilities for youths with visual im-pairments. The $2,100 raised from the 2012 derby was matched by the Spenard Lions Club to fund a donation of $4,200 to Camp Abilities in Anchorage. Big Lake Aurora Lions began sponsoring a fishing derby six years ago to help raise money to send kids to camp. Held at the Montana Creek Campground, the derby is open to children under 16 and features categories for different age 50 LION MARCH 2013 groups. The event does more than just generate funds for the camp. “It helps raise the participating kids’ awareness of the more challenged kids and their needs,” says Kleinenberg. The club matches each $15 entry fee with all money going to Camp Abilities. A 5-year-old boy won the derby by catching a 26-1/2 inch “humpy,” a pink salmon. Lions keep local kids busy, says Kleinenberg, who adds that the club already has several youthful fans. “One young man, Jesse, has been part of our group at all our events, and those sponsored by the Big Lake Lions as well. He is too young to be a Leo yet, but that hasn't stopped him. He's 10 and can't wait until he can join. Meanwhile, he is part of ‘the crew.’” Adds Kleinenberg, “We also had several kids sign up for the derby who compete in our winter [snowmobile] racing events for kids 3-to 10-years old called the Kitty Kat Races. It was good to see them wearing summer clothes since I nor-mally see them all bundled up in layers with helmets on.” It’s a popular weekly winter activity, drawing a lot of families with only a $5 entry fee—and also a few moose who hang around the track and have to be shooed away by Lions.