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Fishing with purpose

Selling herring to help children being treated for cancer at BC Children’s Hospital

It started off early one morning at a downtown coffee shop. Two commercial fishermen met by accident and decided to sell herring to help children being treated for cancer at BC Children’s Hospital.

Since November 2011, that idea has grown into a huge annual fundraiser—Fishermen Helping Kids with Cancer.  At the start, the herring fishermen wondered if anyone would show up, but last December’s event reeled in more than 2,500 people, who started arriving at 5 am and bought 60 tons of herring for $115,000.  

The herring sale is sponsored by the BC commercial fishing industry which pays all costs, so 100 per cent of the revenue goes to support kids with cancer. From the beginning, the commercial fishing industry donated boats, licenses, fuel, ice and everything else needed to make the herring sale a success.

“The best thing about this event is knowing that the money we raise buys iPads, video game systems, snacks, books and lots of other items that makes a day in the hospital a little easier for kids with cancer.”

— Phil Eidsvik, Fisherman Helping Kids with Cancer organizer

“If you ask the seine skippers and crew why they donate their time to catch herring—even in weather that would normally deter them—they would say, ‘It’s simple, all of us have lost a sister, daughter, Dad or someone else we care about to cancer,’” said Phil. “They might be out in nasty weather, but these kids are in the fight of their lives, so they want to help.”

In total the herring sale has brought in more than $650,000 since its beginning, and has become so successful that there is now a herring sale in Victoria and in Portland, Oregon.  All in all, it’s a pretty good outcome from an accidental 6 a.m. meeting in a downtown coffee shop.

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