The Brainerd Lakes area of Minnesota (about two hours north of the Twin Cities) is home to some of the best fishing in the state of Minnesota. It’s also the new home of the Central Minnesota Teen Challenge campus, which opened in June 2008.
Combining these two assets resulted in fishing tournaments in 2009 and 2010 that netted “big bucks” for Teen Challenge. World famous angler, TV-show host and Brainerd resident Al Lindner shared his inspiration for a fishing event that would bring churches together, and it led to him recommending a long-time associate to head up the effort.
The tournament format was for all ages and all skill levels. It was a one-day multi-species event, with a modest entry fee, $100, and a fund-raising commitment of $500 from each two-person team. Fortunately for Teen Challenge, each team has raised an average of more than $1,000. Each annual tournament netted approximately $100,000.
This financial success is due to controlling costs, great merchandise prizes, a hearty banquet at the rules meeting, rubbing shoulders with fishing personalities, catching fish, hearing the Teen Challenge choir, meeting fishermen from other churches, and having fun. Teams become ambassadors and work to attract new teams and introduce others to Teen Challenge.
Kalkofen solicited several sponsors, and credited them on trophies, on banners, from the stage, and in news releases. Sponsorship fees covered expenses, which included posters, brochures, mailing, and some prizes.
When Al Lindner’s industry friends and professional anglers heard about the cause, they were very generous. Pro anglers signed and donated 40 rods and reels that they had used on tour; some of the rods were valued at more than $400, with most retailing in excess of $200.
These prizes were complimented by Frabill ice shelters and nets, Navionics electronics mapping chips, fishing trips to Canadian resorts, fishing tackle, guided fishing trips, MinnKota trolling motors, boat fire extinguishers, and more. A total of 75 prizes were awarded in 2010.
The 2011 tournament is set for Saturday, June 4. More information about the format, rules, promotions, winners, etc., can be found at mntc.org/fishing challenge. The top 2010 fund-raising team won a fishing day with Al Lindner for their $7,150 effort.