She's been more than a little feisty this year, but good ol' Mother Nature appears to be falling in step with the Brainerd Jaycees - and about time.
Organizers of the 17th annual Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza on Gull Lake are moving forward with plans for this year's contest, one of the most successful fundraising events in the Midwest.
The Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza has generated nearly $2 million since 1991 to charities, including more than $1 million to Camp Confidence. The follow list includes the year, total charitable donation, portion to Camp Confidence and event chair:
1991, $14,523, $10,892, Chris Dalbec.
1992, $19,285, $13,784, Kevin Dens.
1993, $45,657, $33,487, Bob Slaybaugh.
1994, $10,174, $6,875, Don Ryan.
1995, $74,986, $52,630, Bill Rickmeyer.
1996, $37,759, $26,718, Ron Imgrund.
1997, $65,153, $44,907, Bart Harmer.
1998, $114,334, $84,094, Ron Meyer.
1999, $131,270, $91,889, Greg Neff.
2000, $193,000, $135,000, Iain Olness.
2001, $205,085, $143,139, Ed Vobejda.
2002, $97,057, $67,240, Jim Davis.
2003, $206,440, $144,515, Steve Jobe.
2004, $252,660, $177,580, Brian Lindberg.
2005, $166,897, $116,828, Shawn Ridler.
2006, $195,557, $136,890, Mary Devine.
If you walked outside Tuesday, you have no doubt that Mother Nature is doing her best to help make this event - believed to be the world's largest ice fishing contest - a success. Her extended forecast calls for perfect conditions to make ice well into next week.
Hundreds of people representing dozens of nonprofit organizations in central Minnesota are crossing their fingers that the forecast holds true.
They count on the hard work and the generosity of the Jaycees.
Mary Harder, Camp Confidence outdoor education specialist and volunteer director, introduced Mya Smith to one of the resident corn snakes Tuesday in the nature center at the camp. Smith, with the consumer advisory committee of Wingspan Life Resources organization in Minneapolis-St. Paul, was visiting to plan the year's activities for the organization. Since 1991, Camp Confidence has received more than $1 million from the Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Who are they?
Children and seniors. First Responders and FFA students. Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. And the thousands of campers from throughout Minnesota who enjoy the Confidence Learning Center, known as Camp Confidence.
The contest has raised nearly $2 million for area charities. In 2006 alone, nearly $200,000 was donated. Over the years, nearly 70 charities have benefited from the Extravaganza.
Jeff Olson, Confidence Learning Center executive director, said he's relieved and excited about the favorable forecast for the fishing contest. The Jaycees' contribution accounts for nearly one-quarter of the Camp Confidence budget for its Sylvan Lake operation.
Olson said the Jaycees make a tremendous difference in our community because of this contest. The tournament not only benefits dozens of charities but the economy as well given the impact on restaurants, bait shops, convenience stores and hotels, Olson said.
"I'm thrilled today," Olson said of the outlook for the Extravaganza. "I'm looking forward to being on the ice next Friday and Saturday."
Olson, who has been involved with Camp Confidence for 20 years, commended the Jaycees for their efforts and the positive impact on the camp.
Planning and organizing an event of this magnitude is not easy, especially when you throw in the Minnesota wild card of the unpredictable weather.
"They do a great job of it," Olson said of the Jaycees. "I think it's been a thrill to see the relationship grow and see the Jaycees grow."
Olson said Jaycees members have developed into great community leaders and good business people.
The Nisswa-Lake Shore Zone 2 First Responders save lives. As a nonprofit organization, the volunteers rely strictly on donations to fund their efforts, including continuing education programs. The Brainerd Jaycees have stepped up and helped.
"It's a very big relief for us that they're going to have it," said Shawn Bailey, president of Nisswa-Lake Shore Zone 2 First Responders. "It's going to be a go. Let's hope this goes on every year. I think they're doing a wonderful job."
Tom , president of the Junior Achievement of the Brainerd Lakes Area board, said the efforts of the Jaycees have made it possible for the Brainerd chapter to send 1,000 students to its Exchange City program. In addition, the Jaycees' involvement has made it possible for Junior Achievement, which connects students with business professionals, to supply program materials to an average of 140 classrooms per year in the Brainerd area.
"We know the fishing contest is supportive of a lot of charities like ours," Pearson said. "We're always excited to partner with the Jaycees not only with the fishing contest but with their other fundraising efforts."
KATHI NAGORSKI can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5859.
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