Next month, those who love to fish will have a chance to enjoy a day in the outdoors, compete for prizes as they reel in their catch and help raise money to give a wounded veteran or a bereaved military family member an outdoor bonding experience in the summer.
It’s the second Clear Water for Heroes Fishing Tournament, and it’s the brainchild of … a child.
With the help of family and friends, 10-year-old Case Baccio, of Manheim Township, created and ran the fishing tournament for the first time last May.
On a cloudy day, early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Case says he was happy to have more than 40 people come to fish during the first event.
“Last year, we were able to raise $4,200,” Case says.
Case’s 2021 fishing tournament, for both adults and kids, will be held on Sunday, May 16 — again this year at Camp Mack, a Boy Scout camp north of Brickerville.
Case is hoping the event will raise enough to send two people — either wounded members of the military or members of Gold Star families who’ve lost someone military — to an annual outdoor event called the Warrior Weekend to Remember, in Ohio.
That event, set for August this year, allows Purple Heart recipients, and those who have lost loved ones in the military, to enjoy outdoor activities from hunting and bow fishing to helicopter rides, skydiving demonstrations and a bonfire.
“And they have a bonding time where they can talk about their challenges,” Case says.
Two years ago, Case, who’s now in fourth grade at Bucher Elementary School, attended the Warrior Weekend with his older sister, Isabella Baccio; his mom, Ali Bucher; and her boyfriend, Eric McCullough.
Bucher and McCullough are both local skydivers. A skydiving organization they belong to, Team Fastrax, has a nonprofit group called the Blue Skies For The Good Guys And Gals Warrior Foundation, which raises money to organize the Warrior Weekend and send military personnel and their families to the event for free.
Case met a Gold Star mother and several wounded warriors at the Ohio event, and was moved, he says. He came away from the experience wanting to do something to help.
His mother says the fishing tournament was all his idea; he and some of his Boy Scout friends like to fish.
Case returned to the pandemic-shortened event last year with the money he’d raised.
“We got to present our check there,” he says. “We didn’t find any veterans (to send) last year, so the money was put into an account” toward sending a veteran or Gold Star family member in the future.
“He stood up at the Warriors Weekend last year, in front of all these people, and spoke,” Bucher says. “And people said they couldn’t believe he was only 9 years old. I’m very proud of him.”
Bucher says the schedule for the tournament on May 16 is:
• 7-11 a.m., adult fishing tournament.
• 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., lunch to be provided.
• 1-3 p.m., kids’ tournament.
Prizes for the adult tournament are $100, $60 and $40 in cash for first, second and third place.
Winners of the kids’ tournament will receive gift cards — $40, $30 and $20 for first, second and third prizes.
Participants also can buy raffle tickets for donated prizes.
Case says he learned a lot last year about organizing an event, with the help of his sister, and Bucher and McCullough.
“I learned that it’s a lot harder than I thought,” Case says. “I thought it was going to be, ‘This is how much it is, and show up at this time.’ But it’s a lot harder, because you have to find sponsors, you have to make sure you … create spreadsheets,” and a lot more.
Case believes the tournament will be bigger this year; he’s already gotten more sponsors, giving larger amounts, than last year, he says.
Case’s family also will have a booth at the Lancaster County Outdoor Show at Clipper Magazine Stadium next weekend, where people can ask about the fishing tournament and register.
“I feel like veterans sacrifice so much for us,” Case says. “Some are injured and some don’t come back. And I feel that we just take that for granted.
“We’re free and the people that fought for us, I don’t feel like they get enough thank-you’s,” he adds.
By raising money through fishing, and sending veterans and their families to the Warrior Weekend to Remember, Case hopes to deliver some of those overdue thanks.
• What: Second Clear Water for Heroes Fishing Tournament.
• Benefits: Blue Skies for the Good Guys and Gals Warrior Foundation, and the Team Fastrax Warrior Weekend to Remember in August, for wounded military personnel and Gold Star families.
• When: 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, May 16.
• Where: J. Edward Mack Scout Reservation (“Camp Mack”) off Furnace Hills Pike north of Brickerville.
• Registration fee: Regular tickets, $35 for adults, $15 for children; free for volunteers. Hero category (Purple Heart recipients and Gold Star family members), $20 for adults and $10 for children 15 and under. T-shirts and raffle tickets are also available.
• Directions: Heading north on Route 501, turn left at the Camp Mack sign just past the Pretzel House. The lake will be on the right side of the camp road, and registration will be just to the right of the lake.
• Preregistration for the tournament is encouraged; visit: lanc.news/ClearWaterHeroes2.
• Event information: On Facebook, lanc.news/HeroesEvent.
• What: Lancaster County Outdoor Show. Case Baccio’s family will have a table there where you can sign up for the fishing tournament.
• Details: Organizations and vendors will feature activities and products for boating, biking, camping, hiking, hunting, fishing and more. There will be demonstrations and games.
• When: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, April 8-10, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 11.
• Where: Clipper Magazine Stadium, 650 N. Prince St.
• Cost: General admission is $5.
• Information, vendor list and tickets: lanc.news/ClipOutdoorShow.
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