Kent Hrbek plays big role in growth of ALS Fishing Tournament

Published: Jun. 2, 2023 at 10:02 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) -- One of the biggest fishing fundraisers in the Northland returns Saturday for a 28th year.

The Kolar Toyota ALS Fishing Tournament has raised millions to fight the debilitating disease.

And while hundreds of anglers were waiting to hit the water, they were busy signing up at the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Field House.

An especially sobering event for Kent Hrbek, a former Minnesota Twins player.

“My father was diagnosed with ALS back in 1981,” said Hrbek.

To him, the annual ALS Fishing Tournament is more than a day on the water.

“It wasn’t a disease they knew a lot about, but we have definitely known more about it now with different events like this,” said Hrbek.

Hrbek lost his father a year after he was diagnosed.

So, driving up here from the Twin Cities is always an easy choice.

“It costs a lot of money to get these products that people are using,” said Hrbek. “The money we raise here goes towards that so that has helped out a lot.”

Since its inception, the fishing fundraiser has raised more than $4 million.

Each year is bigger than the last.

“I have been volunteering for this event as long as I can remember,” said Kara Stokke, a volunteer for the Kolar Toyota ALS Fishing Tournament. “I have been a part of it in some way since it started 28 years ago after my dad was diagnosed with ALS.”

The event is about raising money, but also hope.

“Being able to provide that hope and knowing how important it was for my dad to have the resources available when he was sick,” said Stokke. “It’s how we keep fighting.”

The legacy of the event showing just how influential the fishing fundraiser is.

“You talk about ALS in Minnesota and people know what it is because of events like this,” said Hrbek.

A record 103 boats are registered.

The event starts tomorrow at 7 tomorrow morning, on Island Lake.

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