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Let's Go Fishing pulls the plug on its role in charitable gaming

Volunteers helped make it possible for Let's Go Fishing to serve more than 20,000 people across the state last year. This pontoon carries local senior citizens on an outing on Green Lake in August 2010. (Tribune file photo)1 / 2
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WILLMAR -- As more than 1,600 volunteers across Minnesota know, there are lots of ways to help Let's Go Fishing.

Ripping apart pull tabs is no longer one of them.

Joe Holm, founder and CEO of Let's Go Fishing of Minnesota, announced to chapters across the state this week that it will no longer be involved in charitable gaming and pull tabs.

Holm acknowledges it was one of the most difficult decisions he's ever made since the organization's start in Willmar in 2002. Pull tabs have helped provide a steady stream of much-needed revenue. It accounts for nearly a quarter of the funding the organization needs for its work.

But Holm said the Let's Go Fishing theme has always been and remains "touching lives and impacting people.'' "Simply put, charitable gaming does not align with the values and mission of Let's Go Fishing,'' he said in announcing the decision.

The decision admittedly requires a "leap of faith,'' said Holm. He said he knows it will create stress for the organization as it adjusts to the loss of revenue this year.

Let's Go Fishing does not have an apparent source of revenue to make up for the loss. He's hoping that donors and supporters will rise to the occasion and help make up for it.

Let's Go Fishing has 27 chapters across the state, and has steadily been expanding its role. It was launched initially to give back to senior citizens by hosting them on fishing and boating outings.

Let's Go Fishing has also worked to help young people by hosting inter-generational outings pairing youth and seniors.

It's also turning its focus on the needs of veterans, both young and old. Holm said the organization is looking to do more in the coming year for veterans including those from the more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of these young men and women have experienced a great deal of stress in their personal lives for the sacrifices they've made for their country. Opportunities to "get back to the water'' and enjoy what is very much an integral part of life in Minnesota can be very important, he noted.

Let's Go Fishing is made possible by a growing network of volunteers and supporters, but Holm said it also comes down to funding. It requires a staff of six to coordinate the services, train volunteers and make possible the programming for youth, seniors and veterans.

He said he hopes that the people, businesses and communities that have supported Let's Go Fishing will continue to appreciate and invest in the work it does.

To learn about Let's Go Fishing and ways to support it, visit

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

(320) 214-4335