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SCOTTSBORO, Ala. – The 6th annual Captian D’s Castin’ N’ Catchin’ Tournament presented by Harbin Automotive at Lake Guntersville looked different this year than it has in the past. That didn’t stop sponsors and community members from donating to a great cause.

COIVD-19 safety measures meant that spectators, food trucks, face painting, and other fun and games, were not present this year. Over 215 boats showed up to participate in the fishing competition this year, that number is up from the tournament average of 190.

The nonprofit started in 2016 to raise awareness for pediatric congenital heart defects. Drew McNutt, Tournament Director said the nonprofit started when four families were sitting in the hospital.

All of their kids were in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit fighting for their lives, “Open heart surgeries, a lot of in-depth medical problems that all of us had to go through. So we’re doing this to basically give back to the doctors, surgeons, and nurses that have done so much for our children,” McNutt told News 19.

The waiting rooms at Children’s Alabama became all too familiar for these families. While they all sat there waiting, they started asking, how can we give back to these doctors and nurses?

It wasn’t until one of McNutt’s family members suggested a fishing tournament. McNutt said it was a no-brainer, they all lived around or by Lake Guntersville, had a passion for fishing, and wanted to give back.

“So yeah, just sitting around in the hospital, and then we collectively put out the idea for two more of our families and it just took off from there,” Mcnutt said. It took almost 10 months to plan the first Castin’ ‘N Catchin’ event and once that happened it’s been a success ever since.

Since the first tournament the non-profit has been able to raise over $650,000 for the Pediatric Congenital Heart Center of Alabama, this monetary amount has not only helped the children of Alabama but many nationwide.

McNutt said it’s the continued support of the sponsors who so generously give every year have allowed for continued research and advancements.

“Just seeing the impact the money that is being sent to the hospital is making, not only potentially for our children but potentially for other children for many, many years down the road. The research and capabilities that have been able to happen with the money that has been donated,” McNutt said.

The process of finding out that you have a young child with Congenital Heart Disease is not easy for any parent or family member and McNutt says Castin’ ‘N Catchin’ is a network, “If you need to talk, reach out, that’s what we’re here for.”

Volunteer opportunities, a donation link, or if you would like to become a sponsor, you can click here for more information.