Volunteers worth a million bucks

Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Ask Brett Huber, Kenai River Sportfishing Association Executive Director, what's the key element in putting together the largest grossing fundraiser of it's kind in the country? He'll tell you: "It's the army of community volunteers; they are the Classic, they are the reason participants come back year after year."

For the third year in a row, the world famous Kenai River Classic has earned over a million dollars for projects to protect and enhance the Kenai River. The 10th anniversary of the annual event brought seven U.S. Senators, several members of President Bush's cabinet and 180 other VIP's to participate in the only King Salmon fishing derby of it's kind. According to Huber, it was the second most successful Classic for number of fish caught with a total of 224, of that total, 171 Kings were released to continue their life cycle.


Community volunteers for the 10th Annual Kenai River Classic pose for the camera at Harry Gaines dock.

The winner for the second time of the Ted Stevens Classic Championship for most inches of fish caught and released went to Senator Stevens's colleague from Colorado, U.S. Senator Wayne Allard. Senator Allard also won the championship four years ago. Alaskan businessman Jim Udelhoven, of Udelhoven Oil Field System Services, landed the largest King of the tournament, a 61 pounder. The largest fish caught and released was a 56-inch King, hooked by Robin West of Washington D.C. For the second year in a row, Chuck Thomas was awarded a new Yamaha 35 horsepower outboard motor for the title of "Best Guide" during the Classic. He is the only two-time winner of the Classic's Best Guide award.

The most exciting news of this year's Classic was the unveiling of the Ted and Catherine Stevens Kenai River Conservation Scholarship. A $20,000 annual scholarship to be awarded to students interested in pursuing studies in river restoration and who have demonstrated community service and conservation during their high school careers. The Kenai River Sportfishing Association will administrate the scholarship program.

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