By Chris Payne
The holiday season is upon us and the spirit of giving abounds, especially in the kayak fishing community.
I can't recall a December that has seen kayakers give so much back to charities, families and children. It is a testament to the nature of our sportsmen. Sharing with others is inherent.
In Austin, the Second Annual Santa Claus Classic raised more than $1,200 and over 100 toys to contribute to the United States Marine Corps' Toys for Tots Campaign.
In Arkansas, the AKA Christmas Classic donated toys and more than $1,300 to the NWA Children's Shelter.
Kombos for Kids based in Panama City, Florida pooled the resources of local fishing clubs and businesses to donate 30 rod and reel combos to the Boys and Girls Club of Bay County.
In Tullahoma, Tennessee, Ketchin' for Kids donated $1,750 to families in need. Not too far away in Murfreesboro, the Tennessee Kayak Anglers pooled their resources to set up a young man from a family with finances stretched to the limit with a kayak, fishing gear and fishing clothing – most everything needed to get the young man on the water.
Dozens of other organizations raised money through tournaments and held toy drives to share their blessings with others. At my last tally, more than $20,000 in cash and presents were given to help during this time when so many go without.
At the risk of soap-boxing a bit, I believe this is an often unheralded reason for the growth of kayak fishing. The community vibe of sharing information, time and even equipment says a lot to newcomers. We aren't free of flaws, rotten apples or elitists but for every one of those I can point you to 100 guys who would give you the shirt off their back.
I'm thankful to belong to a sport that values participation over equipment, smiles over numbers and growth over exclusivity.
Whether you represent a company or just yourself, we all represent the sport to the fresh faces just finding kayak fishing. The work you have done this month and all year long shows the true heart of the kayak angler. Thank you all for continuing to give. Your actions will reverberate for years in the lives of those you have helped. Thank you so much.