17th Annual Muskie Derby Raises $10,000 for Athletes
By: Sarah Hood
Tuesday, June 26, seemed like the perfect day. The sun was shining, boats were taking off from the harbor and Muskies were falling quickly for the bait. More than 300 people arrived at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club for the 17th Annual Muskie Derby hosted by the Michigan Ontario Muskie Club (MOMC).
"It's overwhelming to all of us," said Treasurer of MOMC, Doug Felster, about the success of the Muskie Derby. "To see the athletes joy and excitement and enthusiasm and to hear Steven speak, it gets us like a bunch of babies. It's an amazing thing."
MOMC began the Special Olympics Michigan Catch-and-Release Muskie Derby in July of 1996, when the group took advantage of an opportunity in which business owners could partner with a non-profit organization and help each other out. Originally there were only 12 entries and the event was deemed a success. The Grosse Pointe Yacht Club hosts the derby in cooperation with sportsmen from the Detroit Athletic Club and the Detroit Yacht Club. Today, this event has become the largest charity-fishing derby in both Ontario and Michigan and raised more than $100,000 for Special Olympics Michigan athletes.
The gunshot start sounded at 9 a.m. signaling the boats to venture out across the waters of Michigan and Canada and let the fishing begin! Lines had to be out of the water by 3 p.m., leaving plenty of time to catch the largest Muskie in the water.
There were more than seven Special Olympics Michigan athletes who took part in the Muskie Derby this year. Steven Kujawski, Area 23 athlete, set the bar high last year by catching a record breaking 54 inch Muskie. This year was Steven's third year participating in the Muskie Derby, where he not only fished, but served as liaison for the event's committee as well.
"This was another opportunity to catch a bigger fish," Steven said. "This past year has changed my life, especially since I caught that 54 inch Muskie."
Steven's impressive catch last year was just barely beat by Russ Pillette who broke the record with a Muskie that measured in at 54.5 inches. As a close second, Team Donald Duck won with a Muskie that measured in at 54 inches. In third place was Eddie Pascua's with a 53.75 inch Muskie.
After all of the participants arrived back on land, Grosse Pointe Yacht Club served a delicious meal as speeches were given and the MOMC announced raffle and auction winners. Steven and his father both came up to say a few words to thank all who helped make this year's Muskie Derby another great success. MOMC presented a generous check of $10,000 to the Special Olympics Michigan athletes in attendance.
As the evening wrapped up, Steven ended his speech with a reminder to all, "If you guys need any fishing buddies, you know who to call."
Thank you to the MOMC, the Detroit Athletic Club, The Detroit Yacht Club, the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club and all of the participants of the 17th Annual Muskie Derby for your support of Special Olympics Michigan athletes!
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