Fishing And Golf Tournament Raises Big Bucks

$3.6 Million Stars & Stripes Gives to Children

In a tournament most locals don’t even know about, 61 teams, and 232 anglers, along with several teams of golfers, raised $3.6 million for seven children’s charities.

It all started with a chopper chop-chop-chopering overhead and dropping Dana Bowman, a double amputee and former US Army Special Forces soldier. He does this every year in the Stars & Stripes tournament, usually displaying the American flag on the way down but this time they chose to have him fly the Mexican Flag, in honor of the country that hosts the tournament, and to honor the local children who are beneficiaries of the charity.

  The Stars & Stripes 21st tournament began in 1997, when Dick Gebhard created a fundraiser for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Orange County California.  He created a fundraiser that combined fishing, golfing, and music snd it is now a registered 501 3 C charity.

The Helix Electric team, comprised of three anglers from San Diego, Mark Cripe, Robert Bosplug, and Steve Tucker, were the top scorers in the tournament, with 120 points, and 6 yellowfin tuna.

The Chris Jones Gold team came in a close second with 118 points, 5 yellowfin tuna, 2 dorado, and 1 striped marlin. 

Bradlee Arendt from the Ships and Giggles team caught the heaviest dorado, weighing in at 36 lbs, and Robert Bosplug, from the Helix Electric team caught the heaviest tuna, weighing in at 41 lbs. Phil Berry from the Fake News team caught 1 striped marlin.

You don’t hear about the Stars & Stripes tourney because it all happens out of town. The participants stay at the Hilton on the corridor, and the weigh in is at Chileno Beach. The big Saturday evening charity dinner takes place at the Hilton Hotel, where everybody was encouraged to dress in white. The entertainment highlighted several of the charities that benefit from the Stars & Stripes Tournament.

Cherie Wilcox, from Boseman, Montana, a volunteer for the event who has been participating in the tournament since it began 21 years ago, said, “This is an amazing tournament supporting children’s charites.  Once you come to this event, you realize how special it is, it makes me cry.”

This year, 10 charities were the beneficiaries of the tournament, 2 supporting Baja communities, and 8 supporting US communities.  These are the local charities:

The Plasticos Foundation performs surgery free of charge for children with traumatic injuries and correctable deformities, the volunteer medical teams save them from a life of profound suffering and possibly death.   Stars & Stripes is supporting the Plasticos Foundations to have a greater impact in the local community.  “They’ve done more than 48 operations locally, including heart operations, cleft palates and skin grafts, where doctors from the US and Mexico are working together at a heart lab in La Paz,” said Dick Gebhard, proudly.

Building Baja’s Future. This is all about providing scholarships. They highlighted the story of a young girl named Esther.  BBF’s staff inspired her and helped her believe that women can be anything they want to be. Esther visited a school that provided scholarships for her to go to college, and she applied despite her father’s objections.  She majored in tourism and now has a successful career in the local hospitality industry.

One of the special guests of the evening was Moses Aramburo, a local man who was a beneficiary of the Stars & Stripes in 2012.  Stars & Stripes donors supported Moses with a generous donation to help him get his first mind-controlled bionic hand, after an accident where doctors had to amputate a part of his right hand.  

“Stars & Stripes Tournament has allowed me to regain mobility and function of my right hand after being involved in an accident in late 2012.  With the use of my new bionic hand, I have been able to carry on with life uninterrupted and not feel disabled but empowered to continue facing life and its challenges.  I am thankful for Stars & Stripes generosity for providing me with the tools that have allowed me to heal physically, emotionally, and mentally,” said Moses. 

JoAnn Armstrong, from California, who has been coming down for 8 years says, “this is a well-run event, with very generous donors.  They’ve raised the bar in fundraising every year.  It’s grown from something very small to more than 700 people.  Now it’s not only fishing but also golf, spas, activities like ziplines, swimming with dolphins, silent and live auctions, and entertainment in the evenings.” 

Among the event’s sponsors were Sportfishing Association of California, Pisces Sportfishing, and Galati Yacht Sales.    

The evening ended with a bang as Dick Gebhard took a giant check on stage and along with his team, announced that this year’s tournament had raised $3.6 Million dollars for all the charities involved. Celebratory fireworks ended the 3 day event.