I usually try to theme my September Editor’s Log on a subject which is surf fishing related, but this month something more personal takes priority. Back in early July, Owen Hanecak (the son of my very good friend and Rhode Island Field Editor for The Fisherman Magazine, John Hanecak) was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL.) Owen was about 14 months old at the time of the diagnosis, and since I am not a doctor, I looked ALL up on WebMD and found the following:
ALL is a type of leukemia that starts from white blood cells in the bone marrow, the soft inner part of bones. It develops from cells called lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell central to the immune system, or from lymphoblasts, an immature type of lymphocyte.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia invades the blood and can spread throughout the body to other organs, such as the liver, spleen, and lymph nodes. But it does not normally produce tumors as do many types of cancer. It is an acute type of leukemia, which means it can progress quickly. Without treatment, it can be fatal within a few months.
For the first 6 or so weeks following the diagnosis, Owen was being treated at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, CT. Both John and his wife, Karyn, “lived” at the hospital along with Owen for this time with both missing a good amount of work. Karyn plans to take about a year off from work as a teacher since Owen will require regular doctor’s visits roughly twice per week for the next 3.5 years or so. And while insurance covers a good portion of the treatment, there will be some major expenses along the way above and beyond standard medical costs. In light of this, a group of us in the fishing community have banded together to produce two fundraisers this fall to help the Hanecak family.
First up, Dave Anderson is going to be running a catch and release striped bass surf fishing tournament with all of the proceeds going towards Owen’s treatment expenses. The tournament is set to run from September 22 through October 21 and will follow the rules that Dave established through his GoTight.net tournaments. The hope is that this can become an annual event so that we can continue to assist throughout all of Owen’s treatment. While the details are still being finalized, you can keep an eye to www.outflowfishing.com/owenstrong as the page will go live very soon.
Following the tournament, we will also have a fundraiser/awards presentation which is being produced by the combined efforts of Greg McNamara, Jared Clairmont, Chris Blouin, Dave Anderson and myself. Again, we are still ironing out the finer points right now, but I can tell you about a few things that are “just about” official. On Saturday, October 21, at the Clinton (CT) Town Hall, we will have a full afternoon of seminars, raffles, auctions, food and more with all proceeds going to benefit Owen’s treatment. There will be two big-time speakers—one discussing surf fishing and the other talking about boat fishing—so there will be something for everyone regardless of your fishing preferences. A small donation will be requested at the door, but be sure to bring some extra cash as we already have a lengthy list of items that will be up for grabs in the raffles and silent auctions. The Town Hall has a large theatre upstairs where the presentations will take place, and then downstairs we will have some awesome catered food as well as all of the items that will be offered up for auction and raffles. We should have an event page posted shortly on Facebook with all of the details through the Connecticut Surfcasters Association’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ConnSurfcasters/), and stay tuned for additional details in the October issue of The Fisherman.
As I write this Editor’s Log, Owen, John and Karyn are finally back at their home as Owen has been making substantial improvements in his health. His condition was considered “in remission” by the 29th day of treatment and he was cleared shortly thereafter to head home, a huge relief for all of us!
If you’d like to make a donation either directly to the Hanecak family, or with raffle/auction items for the fundraiser, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.