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Up North: 22nd Annual ALS Walleye Tournament Welcomed Largest Crowd Since 2007

Eyewitness Sports
June 06, 2017 04:23 PM

They stuck to their game plan, stayed in their spot, and let the fish come to them is what Josh Fankhanel and Jason Schrupp said their strategy was during the ALS Walleye Tournament. Their game plan topped the field of over 350 anglers to earn them a first place finish.

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The duo ended up reeling in their fourth tournament win in its 22-year history and the biggest walleye on the day at 5.34 pounds. They say winning the tournament is a plus, but their main reason for participating year after year is for the cause.

"It's a majority the cause, but we just love to fish and spending time on the water. Good friends and good people, just makes it that much more enjoyable," said Fankhanel.

"We just like to be out here. You know, all the money raised goes to a good cause so it's fun to come up here and do it," said Schrupp.

The fishing portion of the tournament is a way to make light of the terrible disease Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis also known as ALS. It's a disease approximately 30,000 people in the United State live with and 5,600 are diagnosed with every year in the U.S.

"Over the years of the tournament we've been fortunate to meet and get to know a lot of these patients and their families and how this terrible disease affects them," said Tournament Director Blake Kolquist. That is why everybody continues to show up continues to volunteer and show up and continues to support it," he added.

It's also a personal cause for many like two-time Minnesota Twins World Champion Kent Hrbek who lost his father to ALS. Hrbek along with Minnesota Wild Assistant Coach Darby Hendrickson and former UMD hockey defenseman Jim Johnson served as the celebrity hosts for this tournament, each having their own desire to help support the fight.

Kent Hrbek "Of course we would like to end this thing so we can find a cure for it, but as long as we don't find a cure for it, we're going to keep coming back and raising money for it," said Hrbek.

"You keep plugging, you keep trying to put in your time to help people going through this," said Hendrickson.

"When you see the strides that are being made and in the medical community with science and research and know that these dollars and a large percentage of these dollars are going to that and patient care, that's what makes this all worth while," added Johnson.

The tournament has continued to push the envelope raising nearly $3 million since 1995. This the tournament raised almost a quarter of a million dollars exceeding their original goal once again. The total amount was $241,015. Organizers say the reason they set these lofty goals is because that is what it is going to take to cure this disease.


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