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Get Hooked On A Cure At Annual Westport Fishing Tournament

Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTPORT, Conn. – Fishing enthusiasts from Westport and beyond can help reel in a cure for pediatric cancers while enjoying a day out on Long Island Sound this Saturday during the fifth-annual Saugatuck Cup, a catch-and-release charity fishing tournament.

Created by former Westport resident and Staples High School graduate Matt Spengler, the Saugatuck Cup  raises funds for The 9th Floor Foundation, a nonprofit that partners with the Children’s Tumor Foundation and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centers to fight pediatric cancers and neurofibromatosis— a neurological disease that causes benign and malignant tumors. The foundation was founded by Spengler and his wife, Kristin.

“It’s hard to believe we are in our fifth year,” Spengler said. “Year after year we have faithful friends, fellow anglers and generous sponsors who all come together to create a great day on the water. We are so grateful to everyone involved in this event and hope that by doing something we truly love—fishing— we can all help families fighting pediatric cancers and NF.”

Spengler’s son James, 9, was just 2-years-old when he was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis. Throughout his courageous battle to overcome the disease, James received treatment on the ninth-floor of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Pediatric Cancer Care Center. It was James’ inspirational fight that inspired Spengler to found both the tournament and the foundation.

During the tournament, anglers fish for bluefish, striped bass and false albacore on the Sound, in and around Westport, and are awarded points for each catch—which they must photograph. Awards will be given to the first, second and third place winners in the following categories: fly, artificial and bait.

The entry fee for the tournament is $200 per person. Approximately 60 to 70 anglers are expected to participate in this year’s event, said Eric Johnson, owner of Westport Outfitters, an event co-sponsor. Johnson, a longtime friend of Spengler, also helps organize the event.

The tournament runs from 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Beginning at approximately 4:30 p.m., there will be a post-tournament party at Westport Outfitters/All Seasons Marine Works, 609 Riverside Ave., Westport.

The after-party is open to the public and will include food, live music, raffle prizes and a live auction, Johnson said. Admission to the after-party is $50 for anyone who did not participate in the tournament, he added.

"This is a great way to do something fun for a great cause," said Johnson.

All proceeds from the event will be donated to The 9th Floor Foundation. To date, Johnson said the event has raised over $170,000 for the foundation.

For more information about the event, to sign up for the tournament, or to donate to the 9th Floor Foundation, visit the Saugatuck Cup website.

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