The test of time — 36 years and counting

By Bob Groene, The Dispatch and Rock Island Argus

(JULY 12, 2011) One of the positive perks of covering the outdoors beat is the opportunity to hang around and get to know folks who make up the outdoors community — and it’s a big one.

I particularly look forward to the annual Children’s Therapy Center (CTC) Charity Bass Tournament, easily the largest event of its kind around the Quad-Cities area. I get to hello, high-five, chat with and fist bump lots of anglers, tournament officials, volunteers, sponsors and families who are all there for a common goal — to raise money for youngsters who need help.

These kids, through no fault of their own, need physical, speech or other therapy services to help them along with life, and this sterling event helps loads with that. Sure, the anglers are as competitive as can be, but the underlying common thread is helping kids.

Over the last 10 years, the Skeeter Performance Boat Company has stepped up by providing the services of one of their sponsored touring bass professionals to come to the tournament, attend the Friday evening meet-and-greet and emcee the Saturday tournament weigh-in.

That has given me the opportunity to ask the likes of Alton Jones, Mark Davis, Mark Menendez, Harold Allen, Kelly Jordan and others this question: In your travels around the country, how many charity bass tournaments have you come across that have been going on for more than 30 years? That’s when I get the same answer, “Wow, 30 years, that’s incredible. I’ve never heard of a charity bass event lasting that long.”

That said, the 37th annual CTC Charity Bass Tournament will be held Sept. 24 out of Albany, Ill., Mississippi River Pool 14.

The tournament has a buddy format, with a $100 per boat entry fee, has a cash purse of $3,000 for first place, pays down 15 places and the angler catching the big bass is rewarded with a new trolling motor.

“This is much more than just a large bass tournament,” said Geneseo resident Scott Ford, who chairs the organizing committee. “It’s fun to communicate with anglers who have fished the tournament and see on a message board or hear their comments of how well it is run — many say the best run fishing event they have ever participated in. And that’s a fine testament to former Chair Jeff Roman who set the format up many years ago.

“The Friday evening meet-and-greet at Grace Marine in Bettendorf is always a treat, with complimentary picnic-style food and the opportunity to meet the Skeeter Boats celebrity weigh-in emcee and chat with fellow anglers and their spouses.

“Saturday morning anglers arriving at Albany are met by a cadre of volunteers who direct them to the launch ramp and guide trailers backing into the water. After launching, the tow vehicle driver is guided to parking, then driven to the courtesy dock by golf cart.

“In the afternoon, the tow vehicle driver is driven to his vehicle in a golf cart and directed to the ramp. After backing to the water, volunteers hook the boat to the trailer and another volunteer takes the wheel of the tow vehicle while both anglers transfer their fish to a weigh-in bag while being driven the short distance to the weigh-in stage. After weighing-in, one of the anglers is directed back to parking with their rig so they can enjoy weigh-in festivities.

“I’ve enjoyed fishing this event for many years and started helping the committee several years ago; and last year I assumed being chairman. While it takes a substantial amount of time, the tournament is a cool way to be around bass fishing nearly year round and help kids at the same time. It makes you feel really good when someone says they feel like they participated in something special.”

The event not only has a website ( with substantial past and current information, but anglers can enter on-line with either a credit card or PayPal account.

“The charity bass tournament has been a very valuable asset to the Children’s Therapy Center for the last 36 years,” WK Juncker of the CTC said. “Not only has it raised $480,000 but it has brought about awareness for many people and lasting relationships between the event and the Children’s Therapy Center. That $480,000 equals nearly 14,000 units of therapy service that kids have received.”

Surviving the test of time with a purpose.