Back in 2014, my wife Sherry and I launched the Kevin VanDam Foundation.
Our thoughts were that we could use my name and reputation as a pro angler to help youngsters through creation of our own charitable organization. I’ve been very blessed with a successful career, and my foundation gives me another means to help youths experience and pursue their dreams in the outdoors.
Since inception, we’ve made several donations in the form of cash, scholarships and fishing equipment to groups and organizations that help kids and support youth programs. Some of our previous funding has gone to children’s hospitals, youth camps and scholarships to collegiate anglers.
For example, in 2016 we donated sophisticated camera equipment to Bronson Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Kalamazoo that allows families to view their children when they physically can’t be at the hospital. We also offered scholarship funding to some collegiate anglers in the Michigan Collegiate Bass Circuit.
Every penny we receive into the foundation goes to supporting worthy groups and we take out no administrative costs.
As you might imagine, we get a lot of requests, so we’re always looking for ways to create more fund-raising opportunities to support more worthy causes.
We also get a lot of requests from anglers wanting to fish with me, so Sherry came up an idea that gives everyone a chance for a fishing trip of a lifetime while providing a fundraiser for the foundation.
We talked about the idea with our sponsors and have been overwhelmed by their support. We partnered with Bass Pro Shops and Omaze, an online charitable auction site, to offer this experience.
The “Ultimate Fishing Trip with KVD” will launch at the GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods this week. The sweepstakes runs through April and everyone who makes a donation to the Foundation gets an entry in the drawing. The lucky angler who gets drawn for the grand prize will get free travel to Memphis in June for two people, accommodations at Big Cypress Lodge, $8,000 in fishing gear and a fishing trip with me.
You don’t have to attend the Classic to enter with a donation and can do it online or on your smartphone.
However, those who donate at the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods get a chance to win additional prizes. In addition to the grand prize, they will be entered in another drawing whereby we will give away a gear package donated by my sponsors worth $8,000 at the end of the Classic.
There are several tiers, beginning with a basic $10 donation, which gets you an entry. Higher donations - $25, $100, $500 and $1,000 - not only get you more entries but also additional prizes. For example, anyone who donates $100 gets a limited edition t-shirt and a $500 gift gets you a KVD autographed jersey.
All of my sponsors will have displays in their respective booths and you can enter at the Nitro Boat display.
Contest rules and more information can be found at www.omaze.com/kvd or www.kevinvandam.com.
It’s our hope that this Classic promotion will raise awareness for our foundation and provide additional funding that will allow us to help more kids and give more youths a chance to enjoy the outdoors.