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Westport Tournament Fishes for a Cancer Cure

WESTPORT, Conn. – Cast a line and help reel in a cure to pediatric cancers this weekend during the third-annual Saugatuck Cup , a catch-and-release charity fishing tournament on Long Island Sound.

Created by former Westport resident Matt Spengler with help from longtime friend Eric Johnson, the tournament benefits The 9th Floor Foundation, a nonprofit launched by Spengler. All proceeds from the event are donated to the nonprofit and then disbursed to The Children's Tumor Foundation and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centers to support pediatric cancer and neurofibromatosis research and provide financial assistance to the families of children battling these diseases.

"When Matt came to me with the idea, it was a no-brainer," said Johnson, owner of Westport Outfitters, a boating and fishing shop in Saugatuck. "You don't see a lot of fishing tournaments for charity–most are just for bragging rights–so I thought it was a great idea."

Inspiration for the tournament came after Spengler's son James was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, a neurological disease that causes tumors. James, who was just 2-years-old when he was diagnosed, is now cancer-free.

During the tournament, which runs Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., area anglers try to hook bluefish, striped bass and false albacore. Participants win points for each fish they catch: one point per bluefish, two per striped bass and three per false albacore, Johnson explained.

Anglers can fish from the shore, by boat or kayak anywhere on Long Island Sound and compete in one of three divisions: shore, fly fishing and spinning rod. At the end of the tournament, participants will show photographic evidence of their catches, and three winners in each division will be selected.

The cost for the tournament is $200, which includes an after-party at Westport Outfitters featuring live music, food, raffle prizes and a silent auction, Johnson said.

"We've got great prizes to give out from our sponsors," Johnson said, adding that auction items include multi-day stays at places like Mount Snow, Cheeca Lodge & Spa and Cuttyhunk, Mass.

Anyone interested in attending the party, but not the tournament, can do so for a $50 donation to The 9th Floor Foundation. To fill out a tournament entry form or for more information, visit the Saugatuck Cup website .

Contact Vanessa Inzitari at vinzitari@thedailywestport.com.

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