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Local fisherman holding 49th annual Bass Rodeo to send local kids to Camp Joy

COLUMBUS, Ga (WRBL) - A local fishing club will carry on an annual tradition this weekend. It's the Georgia-Alabama Bass Club's 49th Annual Bass Rodeo on Saturday, May 11, on Lake Oliver. 

All proceeds from the event go to Valley Rescue Mission in Columbus to provide Camp Joy scholarships for children whose parents otherwise could not afford to send them. 

"It gives the kids a lot as far as religion goes. It gives them peace, quiet, and they learn a lot of things there," said bass club member Joe Waller who also serves as the Weigh Master for the organization. 

For these anglers, the rodeo is more than just about catching bass. They're hooked on making a difference in the world, in their community. 

"The most rewarding thing is getting the kids to go to camp. It keeps them off the street and out of trouble," said Carl Akin, who is Master of Arms for the Georgia-Alabama Bass Club. 

Last year, the fisherman raised enough funds to send 50 kids to camp.  This year, they are hoping to exceed that number. 

"This is the 49th consecutive year that we have put on this bass rodeo for the benefit of the children. We love to send kids to Camp Joy," Waller added, stressing the organization's committment to making life better for local children. 

Valley Rescue Mission says the impact made by these sportsmen through their time and generosity far exceeds any monetary price. 

"It's hard to put into words how much the Bass Club's support has meant to kids who get to go to Camp Joy," said Mitizi Oxford, Director of Development for Valley Rescue Mission.  "First of all, they've been a great partner for many years. They've literally sent hundreds of children to Camp Joy over the years."

The camp offers children the chance to learn about a variety of topics including spirituality and, of course, nature.  Oxford says for some children who attend, it's one of the few times during the summer they will experience the luxury of having three solid meals per day in an environment that nutures their stomachs and souls. 

"It's amazing to see how their hearts are touched by what they learn about Jesus, about just being in a safe and loving environment where they can be a kid," Oxford said.

The fee to join the Bass Rodeo is $30 per person.  On Friday, May 10, anyone wanting to participate can sign-up by stopping by the Lake Oliver Marina, 5501 River Road, in Columbus, between 11 am to 4 pm.  Raffle tickets will also be sold.  Waller says the club plans to award raffle prizes and that other surprises are in store for participants at the end of the fishing tournament Saturday afternoon. 

On Saturday, the rodeo starts early, at 4 am, and it will run through 3 pm.  At the end, the fish will be weighed.  Whoever delivers the largest, live bass will win $1,000.  After the event, members of the Georgia-Alabama Bass Club will release those fish back into the lake. 

If you can't participate in the Bass Rodeo, but you still want to donate to Valley Rescue Mission to offer a child the chance to attend Camp Joy this summer, you may call the Mission at (706) 322-8267 or visit the Valley Rescue Mission website. 

Learn more about the Georgia-Alabama Bass Club.

Learn more about the Valley Rescue Mission and ways to donate to the organization. 


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