A Few Words From Our Founder.
When my family and I started the Tofino Saltwater Classic fishing derby eight years ago, we weren’t sure how successful it would be. What we did know was that we wanted to do something meaningful to give back to the community of Tofino. I have been coming to this amazing coastal town my whole life. In fact, my first trip to Tofino was before I was born! My Mom was pregnant with me when she and my Dad made their annual trip to the West Coast from Pitt Meadows where I grew up. As a kid, I fell in love with the area that also fueled my life-long passion for fishing. My love for fishing and my love for Tofino came together in 2009 with our first fundraiser derby.
Playing for the NHL, one of the most community-minded professional sports organizations in the world, taught me a lot about how private funding can help communities deliver services and programs quickly and efficiently. And that is what the Tofino Saltwater Classic does. With the more than $350,000 the derby has raised to date, we have helped some of Tofino’s most important community initiatives reach their goals.
We have been amazed by the support from local Tofitians as well as visiting anglers from all over North America. More than a thousand participants have supported the derby over the years and our brigade of local, hardworking event volunteers grew to more than 40 people last year.
We think our success has a lot to do with the fact that every penny we raise (after expenses and prizes) goes back to the community of Tofino. While we support the things that you would expect anglers to care about – like salmon enhancement – it is our focus on helping Tofino’s youth that I am most proud of. We have contributed to ten different local initiatives and the majority of the funds raised have gone to support the Wickaninnish School’s “Healthy Food Program” that helps our friend Chef Rick Moore realize his dream of teaching kids about nutrition and healthier eating. We have been told that having more nutritious options available to kids during their school day has had a profound effect on their lives, and has been directly correlated with an improvement in scholastic achievement. Likewise, the derby’s support of the Wickaninnish School Society has allowed kids to access their after school programming at low or no cost.
Additionally, the support of the Tofino Saltwater Classic has contributed directly to the transportation expenses of the Raincoast Education Society’s outdoor field school, a program that provides outdoor, experiential learning opportunities for every student at Wickaninnish Elementary as part of their public school experience. We have also helped support the ongoing planning and development of the West Coast Multiplex – a proposed facility to serve multi-generational families interested in improved health and wellness through a variety of recreational and educational activities.
We are thrilled that the Saltwater Classic has been so successful. My family, our event team and I look forward to many more successful derbies. We look forward to seeing you at the 9th annual Tofino Saltwater Classic.
This article first appeared in Tofino Time magazine in 2017.