Updated: June 09, 2021 10:47 PM
Created: June 08, 2021 10:34 PM
For 24 years the Kolar Toyota ALS Fishing Tournament was held on Island Lake.
After going virtual last summer many were happy for the return to traditional waters. For one Duluthian, it mean once again he could honor his dad's memory by casting his line on his favorite lake.
Growing up Jake Johnson spent entire summers out at Island Lake.
"It was great," Johnson said. "What else could you ask for in the summers? After school is done, going camping every weekend."
There he made great memories, especially with his dad.
Tim Johnson, aside from his friends, family, and dirt track racing, loved fishing and got his son hooked on it too.
"I grew up fishing with him on Island Lake, that was huge," Johnson recalled. "Starting Memorial Day weekend I was up there pretty much every weekend before he got sick."
It was in the early 2000s that Jake's dad was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease.
"My mom and dad, they noticed what was going on with his hands," Johnson said. "Then it kind of hit his speech, stuff like that. Next thing we knew he was using a walker."
In 2004 Tim lost his battle with the disease.
During his fight, the Johnson's witnessed first hand the good that comes from the Kolar Toyota ALS Fishing Tournament. With help from the organization they received a van and an electronic wheelchair for Tim.
Tournament director Blake Kolquist explained ALS, "can be very expensive for a patient or family, beyond what insurance covers for treatments and daily care, so a lot of those things are where the money goes that we raised in this tournament."
To give back Jake started casting off in the charity competition, and this year celebrated a decade of participation.
"It's not about winning prizes for some of us it's more about getting everybody together and raising as much money and awareness that we can for ALS," Johnson said.
The 26th annual event combined the traditional Island Lake competition with a virtual option.
Across the two platforms they raised over $145,000 dollars. No matter if you're wrangling in what's at the end of your line or fighting ALS the organization plans to never quit until they reel in a cure.
"Hopefully we're living one day without ALS," Johnson added.
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