Fishing tournament on South Padre Island benefits indigent health care

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SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Approximately 600 anglers on 168 boats participated in the 17th annual Fishing for Hope Tournament on South Padre Island. The Aug. 28 event organized by DHR Health raised money for the Hope Family Healthcare Center, which provide comprehensive medical services for uninsured families and individuals.

“The anglers compete in two divisions,” said Tournament Co-Director Minerva Echols. “There is a guest division and a physician division for boats with at least one physician on board. We also have a women’s red division and junior division with everyone weighing in two reds and one trout total weight.”

The tournament raised $75,000 for Hope Family Healthcare Center (HFHC) in its first year, and it has been steadily increasing. In 2021, the tournament raised $300,000, and in 2022 the total was $350,000. Combined with the money raised this year, the Fishing for Hope tournament will have raised more than $4 million during its 17-year history

“Everyone wants to give back to the community,” Echols said. “We have fishermen who have been fishing since the first tournament, and here it is 17 years later, and they’re still fishing with us. The physicians who work at Hope Family Healthcare Center do so pro bono, so all the money that’s raised helps pay the center’s other expenses.”

The Fishing for Hope Tournament began in 2006 when the McAllen-based medical facility was at risk of closing down. Faced with mounting expenses, Dr. Beto Gutiérrez, HFHC Medical Director, met with McAllen builder and businessman Alonzo Cantú and others who developed the plan for the annual “Fishing for Hope” Tournament.

“This tournament is the fuel that keeps us going, said Roxanne Ramirez, Executive Director, Hope Family Help Center. “The money raised here is about a third of our budget. We serve the indigent with medical and counseling services, so without the funds that are raised at this tournament we would not be able to sustain the services that we provide.”

Hope Family Healthcare Center sees about 9,000 patient visits per year, and everybody is accepted regardless of their ability to pay or not. Anyone who is uninsured is welcome to apply for treatment at HFHC.

“They can just call us at (956) 994-3319 and we would be more than happy to be their medical home,” Ramirez said. “That’s what we are, a medical home for the uninsured.”

The names of the competition winners at this year tournament were not available as of press time.