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Fish Hard, Party Harder... and making a difference in the community


More than $12,000 is raised in a variety of fun ways

While fishing and partying are a huge part of each year's Western Outdoor News/Yamaha Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot tournament, giving back to the community is a significant part of the event as well. Each year the ways money is raised for charity take many twists and turns and it is always a challenge to the sponsors, participants and even spectators to pitch in.


SPECTATORS, FAMILIES OF TEAM MEMBERS and sponsors, along with their families, boarded the luxurious party yacht, Cabo Escape, at the daunting hour of 6 a.m. to join in the fun.

"It's a big-money fishing tournament, but from the very beginning 15 years ago we said we would always try to give something back to the community of Cabo each year,," said director Pat McDonell. "The sponsors seem to have truly embraced that goal, and we all try to make it fun, too. Over the 15 years, we've raised more than $200,000."

This year, the charity fun began on registration day, as sponsors tried to outdo one another.

Bill Dobbelear, general manager of Gray Taxidermy based in Pompano Beach, Florida, donated not one, not two, but THREE, 200-pound yellowfin mounts which were to be raffled off in order to raise money for charity. Throughout the event, he and his team were busy selling raffle tickets, sweetening the deal by throwing in one of their cool Gray Taxidermy t-shirts and discounting tickets for bulk buyers.


AS THE TEAMS BEGAN OFFICIALLY checking in, cruising by showing their Costas and team numbers.

When called to the stage to conduct his much anticipated raffle on the night of the Yamaha Awards banquet, Dobbelear had a fistful of money in his hand and a big grin on his face.

"I'm overwhelmed by everyone's generosity," he began, "When I explained that the money would be used to support important causes for the children and families facing adversity, folks just reached in their pockets and handed me cash. They didn't really care about the raffle, they just wanted to help! During the past week, we raised $5,000 dollars to go into the fund. Now let's raffle off some mounts!"

Then came one of those unexpected twists... one of the winners whispered to Dobbelear that he wanted to donate the mount back to be auctioned. Within minutes the auction was over and another $1,000 was added to the total donation. The entire gathering applauded Dobbelear for coming up with the idea, the generosity of the person who re-donated his raffle item and each other for contributing.


THEN OUT CAME BOXES of Costa t-shirts, hats and lots of Costa Sunglasses that were raffled off to the guests who had each been given a free ticket.

Minerva Smith, of Minerva's Tackle in Cabo, was doing her thing beginning at the Registration, selling Yamaha/WON official Tournament clothing to go into the charity funds. No shrinking violet, she planted herself right in the middle of the walkway, hawking the shirts herself. Her little clothing enterprise raised another $3,400 for the fund. Everybody knows you can't say no to Minnie!

The Charity Shotgun Start Cruise on the beautiful party cruise ship Cabo Escape Friday morning sponsored by Costa and Pisces was a keeper. Every participant and guest who was not fishing was invited to this one -- and what an event it was. Coffee, mimosas and/or Bloody Mary's plus a catered breakfast along with a chance to see the shotgun start, no, a chance to really be part of the it... all for a mere $20 bill which was donated to charity; now that's a win-win proposition if I ever heard of one!


THEN, IT was 'Party Time!' aboard the Cabo Escape.

At least it must have seemed that way to the 110 hearty souls who managed to drag themselves out of bed that morning after partying the previous night. Spectators, families of team members and sponsors, along with their families, boarded the luxurious party yacht, Cabo Escape, at the daunting hour of 6 a.m. to join in the fun.

As the Cabo Escape slid out into the fairway, the crescent moon set over the Los Cabos Cultural Center beneath a cloudless sky just as the teams began officially checking in, cruising by showing their Costa's and team numbers.

As we neared Cape Rock and its world famous natural Arch, almost all the teams had checked in and after the flare gun was fired, the few stragglers that remained went racing by with their numbers flapping in the wind, trying to catch-up with the teams that had already sped off toward the horizon.


IT WAS all fun.

Then out came boxes of Costa t-shirts, hats and lots of Costa sunglasses that were raffled off to the guests who had each been given a free ticket. By the time the giveaway was over, everyone seemed to be a winner and all the boxes were emptied!

Then, it was 'Party Time!'

The music was cranked up and the dancing began in earnest on the top deck framed by the famous Lands End rocks with Los Cabos skyline in the background.

Everyone enjoyed the idea of having fun while giving back at the same time and as the entire group crowded to the stern for a photo with the famous Lands End arch in the background, director Pat McDonell took the microphone for a minute and with a hoarse voice from hours emceeing the event, thanked all who attended, saying, "We are very pleased to see how many joined us and hope all of you will plan to come back again next year. The proceeds will be presented to a La Paz Children's Orphanage and the family of a local captain and Gray's employee Benito, who recently died in an auto accident. (he was hit by a drunk driver crossing the street)."


COSTA SUNGLASSES, IN ADDITION to sponsoring the cruise, had been busy all week also.

Costa Sunglasses, in addition to sponsoring the cruise, had been busy all week, also. When Dave Bulthuis of Costa sauntered up to the stage on awards night, he, too, had a fist full of money.

"We did something different this year," he began. "We brought a lot of different Costa items with us and on Registration day offered them to the people walking by. I told them to pay whatever they thought they should and that the money would be added to the charity fund. One fellow actually paid $50 for a Costa visor!"

"This is the proceeds of that effort," he said handing Pat McDonell another $3,000.


MINERVA SMITH, OF MINERVA'S TACKLE, was doing her thing beginning at the Registration, selling Yamaha/WON official Tournament clothing to go into the charity funds.

Then there was Jon Pettey, Orange County-based goldsmith and jewelry designer, who created silver tuna rings for the champs, and also donated a Gold Tuna Pendant which was auctioned to a thrilled buyer who also bought an Avet reel that had been won in a raffle by the Mousetrap team and had been donated back to be auctioned, raising another $1,200.

Tracy Ehrenberg introduced the Executive Director of the charities benefiting from the fund raising efforts, who in turn introduced one of the families assisted by the organization.


CHUCK BUHAGIAR EXPLAINED THE Grand Raffle package of the year before drawing the winning ticket -- four Cousins rods, four Avet Reels, four pairs of Costa, Yo-Zuri lures, Seaguar Flouro Carbon leader packs and a WR Crimping tool, Eat Me Lure packs, AFW packs of wire, a Plano rod tube and more.

Chuck Buhagiar explained the Grand Raffle package of the year before drawing the winning ticket -- four Cousins rods, four 4-day stays for two people at the host hotel Wyndham Resort, four Avet Reels, four pairs of Costas, two dozen Yo-Zuri lures, four Seaguar Blue Label 100-pound flourocarbon leader packs and a WR Crimping tool.

By the end of the Awards banquet, more than $12,000 was raised.

Western Outdoor News/Yamaha Los Cabos Tuna Jackpot tournament anglers are an innovative group. Somehow, someway they manage to package up their event so that not only is there plenty of time for fishing enhanced by ample time for partying, but it is tempered with just the right amount of warm and fuzzy, reaching out to those less fortunate. Fish Hard, Party Harder and make a difference in the community!


TRACY EHRENBERG, PISCES SPORTFISHING introduced the Executive Director of the charities benefiting from the fund raising efforts, who in turn introduced one of the families assisted by the organization.

BILL DOBBELEAR, GENERAL MANAGER of Gray Taxidermy based in Pompano Beach, Florida, donated not one, not two, but THREE, 200-pound yellowfin mounts which were to be raffled off in order to raise money for charity. Throughout the event, he and his team were busy selling raffle tickets, sweetening the deal by throwing in one of their cool Gray Taxidermy t-shirts and discounting tickets for bulk buyers.

THEN THERE WAS JON PETTEY, Orange County-based goldsmith and jewelry designer, who donated a Gold Tuna Pendant which was auctioned to a thrilled buyer who also bought an Avet reel that had been won in a raffle by the Mousetrap team and donated back to be auction. The two items raised another $1,200.

BRIAN SOLOMON of Solomon's Landing restaurant, a sponsor for the event for the `5th year, fished the event again and won one of the Gray Taxidermy 200-pound tuna mounts. He said he'll hang it in his restaurant.