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Fishermen Cast a Line for ALS

by | Jun 14, 2018

On June 8 and 9, more than 65 fishermen from around the state gathered for the first-ever ALS Fishing Classic in Port Mansfield, Texas, raising $30,000 for the fight against ALS.

Participants competed in a speckled trout and redfish competition for prizes furnished by Yeti. They enjoyed a raffle, live and silent auctions, and delicious local food.

“As the ALS Association expands its services into the Rio Grande Valley, it is important that we engage with people in the Valley in a way that is meaningful to them,” said Kristin McLaughlin, Director of Development at the ALS Association. “Fishing is a way of life for the community and coupling it with the ALS Association’s mission made the event successful.”

The event began when lifelong friends and fishermen, John Spiekerman and Harvey Hardwick, who have both lost loved ones to ALS, identified the need to engage the Rio Grande Valley community in the mission of the ALS Association. They pulled together friends, family, and colleagues from South Texas who committed time and talent to make the first event a success.

“We come together and raise funds to reduce the burden of seeking appropriate care for our patients,” John said. “We take pride in improving hands-on care for patients today, and keep our compass pointed toward a world without ALS.

Graham Kersten, who is currently living with ALS, was honored at the dinner reception following the tournament. Graham worked for Massey Ferguson Farm Equipment dealership for 23 years and Lyford Gin Co-Op for 16 years before being diagnosed with ALS. Graham has always been involved in the community, serving as the city commissioner for 12 years and on the Church Council, as well as a member of  the choir. Additionally, he was on the Willacy County hospital board and a member of the Lion’s Club. He and his wife will have been married for 58 years in August 2018.

A special thanks to the volunteer committee for their commitment to making the tournament a great success: John Spiekerman, Harvey Hardwick, Keitha Spiekerman, Martin Spiekerman, Edie Katzfey, Shirley Holm, Kitley Wasicek, and Dan Baen.

Congratulations to the tournament winners: Team Full Pop (team division), Team Harvey Hardwick (redfish division), and Team Chris George (trout division).

Stay tuned for information about the 2019 tournament at

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