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Volunteers are the backbone of the St. Jude Bass Classic, an annual bass fishing tournament to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Each May fishing enthusiasts gather at Sardis Lake in Mississippi to compete in five categories for cash and prizes and to help support children fighting for their lives. The tournament lasts one day, but for many volunteers, work begins almost six months earlier.
Starting in January, volunteers visit area boat shows promoting the tournament and selling raffle tickets. As the tournament date grows closer, more volunteers write and distribute press releases to garner media coverage for the tournament. As a result of the volunteers’ hard work, almost 90 area newspapers ran information about the tournament and St. Jude.
Volunteer Ken Lindsey takes on even greater responsibility for promoting the event. He travels to three states distributing registration forms at various bait and tackle shops and convenience stores. He then follows up with store employees about customer interest in the tournament.
Another volunteer, Dr. Bill Miesse, Jr., has a talk show on 560 AM in Memphis. He uses airtime to promote the tournament to his listeners. A few weeks after the tournament, he invites the winners to his show to discuss the competition.
During the week leading up to the tournament, volunteers gather to pack goody bags for tournament participants. The day of the tournament, dozens of volunteers greet fishermen, set up the lake for the weigh-in, serve food and perform other needed tasks to keep the competition running smoothly. Tournament day usually sees around 700 anglers and 350 boats, so volunteers must also assist with traffic control.
Dennis Morlok, tournament director, is greatly appreciative to the many volunteers who give hours of their time for such a great cause. “The 32nd annual St. Jude Bass Classic was a wonderful success. All of the volunteers helped make this charity fishing tournament the largest in the Mid-South,” he said. “This will be the third year in a row we have broken the $100,000 mark for the children of St. Jude. Thank you volunteers.”
If you are interested in volunteering for the 2005 St. Jude Bass Classic, please contact Dennis Morlok.