Keeping with tradition, the 12th annual Tofino Saltwater Classic (TSC) Fundraiser Fishing Derby kicked off with a sun-soaked kids ball hockey game on July 8.
Hosted by former National Hockey League (NHL) star and TSC founder Brendan Morrison at Tofino’s Wickaninnish Community School, over 50 children, youth, and their families joined the fun and were treated to a platter of nutritious snacks provided by the Tofino-Ucluelet Culinary Guild (TUCG).
“This is the biggest turnout we’ve had for ball hockey. They all have a smile on their face. It takes me back to being a kid and all those great memories,” said Morrison.
Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation (TFN) youth worker Neleeta Frank told the Westerly that for some of the TFN day camp kids, the game was their first time holding a hockey stick and chasing the ball.
“It’s a good opportunity to get out of the house and try something new,” said Frank.
Morrison has been coming to Tofino ever since he was a young child. Nowadays, he spends the better part of the year in his Tofino home with his wife and four kids, two of which play collegiate sports: his eldest son is on the University of Wisconsin hockey team and his daughter plays soccer for Miami University of Ohio.
As far as the fishing goes, “it’s been good” according to Morrison, and more than 70 anglers from around British Columbia and beyond participated in the catch-and-release tournament portion of the event. Only measured and released fish were considered for Chinook prizes, while retained and weighed halibut could also be entered. The catch-record-release component of the derby was made possible with Angler’s Atlas’ MyCatch app which uses uploaded photos and video to record, verify and track entries, notes a TSC media release.
Chris Clement caught the top prize Chinook (97.8cm) and a prize purse of $5,000. The second place Chinook (94.9cm) and $2,500 cash went to Megan Fraser and the third place Chinook (94.3cm) was caught and released by Morrison’s dad, Ron. Jeff Berry reeled in the top halibut (74.6 lbs/133cm) and a cheque for $1,500.
“After a couple of years of being hesitant about putting on any kind of event, this year’s Tofino Saltwater Classic had the ‘let’s go all out for the community’ vibe that it had in previous years,” said Morrison in a media release.
“From our outstanding volunteer crew, to the many supporting local business, to generous private donors, to the energetic derby participants, this year’s event had all the makings of a truly fabulous fundraiser for the Tofino community beneficiaries who have depended on us for more than a dozen years,” he said.
The past weekend’s events netted more than $75,000, bringing the total amount raised since the event’s inception to $725,000. All proceeds from TSC participant registration fees and silent/live auctions are donated to Tofino community beneficiaries, with the bulk of the funds going to support the Wickaninnish School PAC health Food and Literacy Programs.
“The kids lunch program is always the first priority,” said TSC media liaison Lynda Kaye.
Tofino dad and TUCG’s community food co-ordinator Bobby Lax worked up a sweat alongside the former NHLer during Friday’s ball hockey game.
“Not many communities have an event that supports school lunch and snack programs like this one does. Brendan (Morrison) is such a humble, easy person to be around. What a gracious ambassador for our town,” he said.
RELATED: Local groups cheer Tofino Saltwater Classic funding
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