November 10, 2015
With the approach of Thanksgiving Day and the Christmas holidays, many are reminded that it is better to give than it is to receive.
This upcoming Saturday, November 14, Major League Fishing angler and 2014 Bassmaster Classic champ Randy Howell of Guntersville, Ala., is hoping to prove that sentiment once again as he gives away his current bass rig to some lucky fan who supports King's Home in Alabama.
"This is my big fundraising (event) each year, my boat giveaway," said Howell. "Anyone that is interested in having a chance to win my boat can go to http://www.kingshome.com and make a donation."
Howell indicates that he got involved with the Birmingham-based King's Home work several years ago after being asked to speak at an event.
"They called me and asked me to do a little talk and testimony at the boy's ranch that they operate," said Howell. "We got there and me and Robyn (Randy's wife) just fell in love with the people that run it, their servant's heart and how hard that they work to help those who are suffering from abuse, neglect, domestic violence and other things."
After that first exposure to King's Home, it didn't take long for Howell and his family to realize that they wanted to do more.
"At first, it was through other speaking opportunities at church events, etc.," said Howell. "But then we thought that maybe we could help them raise funds."
And that's where the idea of giving away Howell's bass rig each year was born, something that started four years ago when nearly $100,000 was raised.
"After that first year, we knew that it was a great opportunity to make an impact on the King's Home itself and their annual budget and operations," he said.
Since then, Howell said that he, Robyn and others spend the better part of a year working on the give-away and associated event, with the work starting with the early season Classic and continuing until just prior to the holidays.
"During the four years we've done this, they've raised right at a half-million dollars," said Howell. "I've got to say thanks to so many people like Triton, Mercury, Livingston Lures, Power Pole and so many others who help us give this away."
What's being given away is a rigged boat and motor package worth nearly $75,000 according to Howell, the same rig he has fished out of during the 2015 season.
"I fish out of the Triton for nine months, someone makes a tax deductible donation by donating $100 or more to King's Home for each chance and then a drawing is held (this weekend)," said Howell. "If you're name is drawn, Randy Howell will smile and give his boat away to you."
Howell indicated that the give-away continues to grow in popularity.
"Last year we sold 1,380 chances," said Howell. "There was $138,000 raised for the boat donation alone."
The largest annual fundraiser that King's Home does each year, Howell said that the money raised goes to help children, women and families being served by the organization.
"They have a $5 million operating budget and the work that they do covers a four county area in Alabama," said Howell. "They operate 16 homes including the women's and kid's homes, so it's a huge undertaking.
"They don't get any federal funding since it's a faith based program and they really rely on things like this for their budget to be met each year."
If the fundraising portion of the giveaway is important to Howell, then so too is the annual event being held in association with the giveaway this weekend.
"This will be the fifth annual event – it's called 'Kampfire for the King,'" said Howell. "It's kind of like a pre-holiday outdoor event with ties into Thanksgiving Day and Christmas. It's done on one of the campus locations where there is a 15-acre pond and there is live music, an outdoor festival that's free to attend and a kid's fishing event too."
Howell said that the event brings out all of the King's Home kids for a chance to have some fun, some food and to enjoy some fishing.
"All together, there's over 100 kids from the homes alone that are brought out and (they) get a chance to fish, some for the first time," said Howell.
If that's not enough, the event provides a valuable opportunity for others involved in the sport of fishing to also volunteer their own time and abilities.
"Last year we had 12 high school fishing teams that helped us out and this year, there's going to be 15 teams coming out," said Howell. "These young anglers are coming out and volunteering their time, about 150 anglers in all. In fact, we really have more high school volunteers than we do actual kids fishing in the event."
The pro angler also stressed that the event is open to the public and that anyone can bring their kids out to the event to experience some fun and fishing.
But for Randy Howell, there's far more to this event than the act of funds being raised, helping kids have a good day of fishing and seeing plenty of people in Alabama have a big smile on their faces at the end of the day.
It's much deeper and far more personal to him.
"Having the platform that God has given me through fishing and the Bassmaster Classic title that I was blessed to win, it elevates things," said Howell. "That Classic win elevated the platform (I have) to the point where people will listen to me sometimes and even be influenced by what I (have to) say.
"That's a really big responsibility and I take it seriously," he added. "I want to be a good steward of that opportunity because as the Bible says, where much is given, much is also required."
Which helps to explain the passion that Howell obviously has in helping put all of this together.
Add in the possibility that Howell can use his career and fishing skills to actually make someone else's life a bit better, and well, he gets even more fired up about it all.
"Most everybody knows that I'm a pretty emotional guy, there's no secret about that," he laughed. "But when I talk about King's Home, I really do get emotional at times. When you're a father yourself and you have your own kids, and then you hear these horrific stories that go on with these kids at King's Home, it makes you angry a lot of times.
"It's so sad that they have to go through these things, especially since all they were doing is being a kid," he added. "They didn't choose this life, these are the cards dealt to them."
While Howell admits that what he does is just a small part, he indicates that being able to play even that small role means as much to him as any fishing trophy does that is sitting on his fireplace mantle.
"It's just a blessing for us to help out and we hope that our involvement inspires others to get involved," said Howell.
"King's Home is a great ministry, but the truth is that there are many other works and ministries like this in so many other states," he added.
"Sometimes, they go unnoticed and are kind of lost in the trenches where they are working. I hope this spurs on someone else to be a servant and to do what they can to help meet these types of needs (wherever a person might happen to live)."
If a person does help out with such a work in their own backyard, Howell is certain that they'll learn as he has in recent years that it really is more blessed to give than it is to receive.
"I think that all of this (in the past few years) has really given me a new perspective and passion, reminding me that I'm not out here fishing for my own glory or to take care of my family or my sponsors," said Howell.
"Really, I often feel like I'm fishing for these kids in so many ways," he added.
"So many people never have the opportunities that I have had and they've been dealt a really bad card hand in their lives. So anything I can do through my fishing to help bring relief to these people, that's probably the greatest accomplishment I could ever get."
Even if there isn't a shiny trophy to go with it.
Because as far as Randy Howell is concerned, he's looking for a trophy of another kind.