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Alexandria Industries' Fishing for the Cure 'another phenomenal event'

Ice anglers hit the frozen waters of Smith Lake on Saturday, Feb. 19.

Kyle Bany takes a fish caught by Cassie Steidle to be weighed.
Kyle Bany takes a fish caught by Cassie Steidle to be weighed.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

ALEXANDRIA — The Alexandria Industries’ 15th annual ice fishing tournament took place Saturday, Feb. 19, on Smith Lake from noon to 3 p.m.

One of the lead organizers, Robbie Betterman, described the Fishing for the Cure tournament as "another phenomenal event."

The fish are biting good this year
Brenda Dillehay

Although the numbers are not finalized, Betterman estimates close to 1,400 people attended the event.

"Every year, it seems to get better and better. And at the end of the day, we're touching so many lives; we're fishing for a cure," said Betterman. "That's the whole point of this event — to help those in need because cancer is a terrible disease. And what a great way to help, by doing what Minnesotans do best, ice fish."

Cooper Nosbash
Cooper Nosbash, 7, of Osakis, holds up his catch at the 15th annual "Fishing for the Cure" event hosted by Alexandria Industries on Feb. 19.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

"The fish are biting good this year," said Brenda Dillehay of Osakis, one of the ice anglers.

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Alexandria Industries' goal for the event was to raise $85,000. How close they got to the goal will be determined later in the week.

The money raised will be donated to the Douglas County Relay for Life.

Since its start in 2007, the Fishing for the Cure event has generated about $400,000 in donations.

Fishing Gavin Lorentz
Gavin Lorentz gets his fish weighed during the "Fishing for the Cure" event.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

2022 marks the 15th year for the fundraiser tournament as a Department of Natural Resources' permit for the event was unobtainable in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Betterman says it is great to see the tournament up and running again, as the community sorely missed it. He said he received many comments from attendees on how grateful they are to have the event back again.

Don Reider of Long Prairie says he attends every year because of what the event represents as cancer is present in his family.

Jason Wiggins, 18, of Osakis, says he enjoys hanging out with friends and family on the ice. This year marks his second year of attending.

Committee member for the event, Jeff Bock, says the event allows everyone at Alexandria Industries to meet the community while giving the residents a chance to support a great cause, cancer research.

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"I enjoy meeting everyone," says Bock. "I have 1,282 friends out there I get to see."

Fishing Nick Klimek
Nick Klimek, 36, of Garfield, patiently waits for a fish to tug his line at the "Fishing for the Cure" event.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

"At Alex Industries, we spend a lot of time talking about culture. And an event like this creates a positive culture for the Alexandria area," said Betterman. "It really shows people what this town is about. Alexandria is a very giving, happy town. And it's great to have an event like this to represent that."

More than just a way to raise money, the event gave prizes for the top 50 large fish and top 50 small fish. Raffle prizes were also awarded, including:

  • Ice Castle 2021 8x16 Mille Lacs LT Fish House.
  • 2021 Can Am 450 EFI 4 Wheeler.
  • X200 Pro Thermal Clam Fish House and Hjelle Arc Custom Spear Combo.
  • Honda EU2200i Generator.
  • Polaris Generator.
  • Strikemaster Lithium 24V 8" Ice Auger.
  • 70" 4K UHD LED Roku Smart TV.
  • Big Buddy Heater.

According to Betterman, the event all started because of Nancy Waldorf and Joan Goodwin. They were brainstorming different ways to raise money. An ice fishing tournament came to their minds.

"The next day, Nancy approached me at work and said, 'Hey, you like to ice fish. Do you want to be part of getting this event going?'" recalled Betterman. "It took off from there. We went from 112 people the first year to the numbers we are at today."

During the 2020 event, 1,436 people participated in the tournament, including 180 children aged 12 and younger.

Thalen Zimmerman of Alexandria joined the Echo Press team as a full-time reporter in Aug. 2021, after graduating from Bemidji State University with a bachelor of science degree in mass communication in May of 2021.
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