Birmingham, Ala. — “This experience gave me something big to remember,” said an 18-year-old camper from Big Oak, as he recalled his two fly-fishing journeys to Idaho with On River Time. Another 17-year-old Big Oak camper recalled the countless new sights and skills that she could have never imagined before; she created bonds with guides and mentors; and this summer she will apply to work at the Lodge at Palisades Creek, home to the “Fish On” camp. Testimony from the campers themselves touched the 180 friends and supporters of On River Time who gathered at the Florentine, September 29 to support the nonprofit at the third annual “Fish On” Fundraiser. They subsequently raised $158,000 which included corporate sponsorships, ticket sales and live auction proceeds.
Founder Steve Davis opened the evening by discussing the way that fly fishing reinforces hope, trust, dreams, and a sense of value. On River Time uses fly fishing at a beautiful destination to give the campers space to having big and small moments of peace: simple laughter on the boat about the one that got away or more literal expressions of fellowship in fireside ceremonies. He recounted the two 2016 camp sessions with a record number of campers and the construction progress of the On River Time cabin.
John Croyle, Founder of Big Oak Ranch began his key note speech as the first course of dinner was served with donated wine from Schug Carneros Winery. Croyle reminded all that this is the only organization that he speaks at for fundraising other than his own—such is its impact on his children. Croyle emphasized that even the board members, successful people from all over the country, were actively involved and accessible to the campers. He encouraged audience members to be “giants” to the children through their donations, demonstrating commitment, vision, and helping to lay a foundation for the future. Croyle asked everyone to think about the often times taken-for-granted hope that their own children likely have, and to use their donation to give the same hope to children who have not had an easy path. He said “I believe in them [On River Time] because they believe in our kids.”
With Steve Davis’ narration, Guin Robinson conducted the live auction, which consisted of trips—Ireland, Cuba, Italy, Idaho Fly Fishing, New York—and dining experiences with local restaurants and caterers such as Fleming’s, Oscar’s and A Social Affair, GianMarcos, Galley & Garden and Daniel George. Other live auction items included generous packages from local sponsors like Pure Fitness, Brookwood Dermatology, MomenTaker Photography, The Vintage Station and Village Dermatology.
Davis then shared with the audience a promo of an upcoming episode of the Fox Sports’ series Anglers and Appetites featuring On River Time. For the remainder of the evening, attendees relaxed to the sounds of the MetroGnomes band, a variety of jazz, classic rock, funk, and soul.
“We have a great foundation in terms of a program, a perfect place, and the people who are propelling it. Every year of successful fundraising is supporting past campers and reaching new ones exponentially,” said Director Jeana Durst.