Sen. Lisa Murkowski presented CFK winners with their Ted Stevens scholarships at the annual barbeque sponsored by Chevron & Agrium
The thirteenth annual Kenai River Sportfishing Association (KRSA) Kenai River Classic was another huge success, bringing together over 200 participants and dignitaries that included nine U.S. Senators and two members of President Bush’s cabinet who came from across the country in an effort to raise funds to sustain and protect the Kenai River for future generations. According to Ricky Gease, KRSA executive director once again this year the Classic generated over $1 million in revenue through participant fees, sponsorships and auction proceeds. “Over $350,000 went directly into the local economy through Classic expenses, such as accommodations, food, guides, tours and transportation,” commented Gease. Classic proceeds will assist KRSA program efforts and endowment fund in habitat rehabilitation, fishery conservation and public aquatic education.
“The great strides we have made over the last decade in protecting this magnificent resource would not be possible without broad community support. KRSA would like to thank the tremendous effort put forth by the legion of over 200 dedicated volunteers who make the Kenai River Classic an annual success. Through their continuing dedication, the Classic has become one of the largest volunteer driven fundraising events of its kind in the country. Many thanks also go to the many local businesses and individuals who generously donate their services and auction items to the Classic,” said Gease.
During the Classic Banquet, Paralyzed Veterans of America board member Gen. Randy West announced a special grant award to the Kenai River Sportfishing Association of $20,000 for handicap access projects on the Kenai River, “For a couple of years now you have invited a paralyzed veteran to fish in the Classic from a wheel chair and tonight in light of what has been done on the River to accommodate paralyzed veterans and others with disabilities we present you with this check for what you have already done and what you are doing tomorrow by inviting a returning vet from Iraq who lost both his legs in service to our Country to join us in fishing in the Classic,” said Gen. West.
Participants from across the country had rave reviews for Alaska and the Kenai River communities speaking to the warmth and hospitality that Alaska has become well known for. Many first time participants said they were not only making plans to return to the Classic next year, but also were planning to extend their stay in order to explore the rest of state. “The Kenai River Classic has become a signature event for Alaska and the Kenai Peninsula community can take pride in the many people who make this event possible and such a success,” added Gease.
Results from the two day fishing event include: Robert Zimmer of Freddie Mac winner of the “Ted Stevens Champion Angler” award for most total points. Zimmer took home the Classic “Catch and Release” award for his released hog of 54 inches. Peggy Hudson of BP America beat out U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski to claim the Classic “Queen of the River” award with her 67 lb King. Kenai River guide Ray De Bardelaben won top guide honors with the “Yamaha Champion Guide” award, with Shawn Friendshuh taking second place and Gary Early in third. Overall during the two days of Classic fishing a total of 134 fish were caught, with 49 being kept and 85 released. The Kenai River Sportfishing Association is a membership based 501(c) (3) non profit organization, “dedicated to preserving the greatest salmon sport fishing river in the world, the Kenai.” KRSA has dedicated over $5 million dollars to habitat preservation, fishery conservation and public education throughout the watershed.
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