Come out and ice fish for suicide awareness

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Kids and adults alike are welcome at the first ever Driftless Area Ice Fisheree for Suicide Awareness and Prevention in Prairie du Chien this weekend. There will be activities for everyone as well as opportunities to gain ice fishing knowledge, all for a good cause. (Submitted photo)

By Correne Martin

 

A brand new event is giving hope to those who have lost friends and family to suicide.

The Driftless Area Ice Fisheree for Suicide Awareness and Prevention will take place this weekend at The Crooked Oar in Prairie du Chien, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. 

The idea of getting people outside to enjoy fishing and the outdoors, and to free their minds from all the stressors of life, for suicide awareness, came to reality at the hands of area resident Allie Klein and some of her friends. 

“We lost a few friends who we used to fish with locally to suicide,” Klein said. “We  also had a friend whose kid took their life. We decided we really needed to do something. 2020 was such a hard year, but it seems like everybody has been stepping out and embracing the outdoors. So we thought a fisheree might be the perfect thing to do.”

According to Klein, their plans have gone over phenomenally with local businesses and organizations backing the ultimate goal of this ice fisheree: suicide awareness and prevention. 

Knowing The Crooked Oar would be the optimum place to host the Driftless Area Ice Fisheree, Klein was pleased when the establishment agreed to be the official headquarters for the event. 

Activities for the whole family will be held Feb. 20-21. There is a fee for kids and adults to fish (kids under 4 are free), with all proceeds going to benefit mental health and suicide awareness programs in the Driftless Area. 

Cash prizes will be awarded for the top three places in each fish category. Fishing and a silent auction will open at 8 a.m. At 9 a.m., there will be a question-and-answer session with the DNR. At 2 p.m., Mike McAbee will entertain with music on the ice. Fishing will close for the day at 5 p.m., with a bonfire and a DJ on the ice to follow at 7 p.m. On Sunday, fishing will open again at 8 a.m., and the final weigh-in will happen at 2 p.m. The auction and a raffle drawing will also conclude about then. 

Raffle and auction prizes are “off the hook” for this fisheree, Klein said. One key opportunity will be 10 gift cards to the Skin Gallery Tattoo Shop, valued at $22 each—representing the 22 American veterans who die each day to suicide. Cabela’s donated a gun safe. Inkspiration Tattoo provided a $500 gift card, and NCS Gunsmithing and Archery Range gave “time” at its range. A local veteran donated a driftwood end table he hand created, and money raised from raffling it will directly benefit the veterans association and suicide awareness/prevention. There will also be a fishing trip to the Lake of the Woods, as well as a multiple night stay for six people on a Minnesota lake up for grabs. 

“We can’t believe the outpouring of support we’ve received,” Klein stated.

There will be plenty of other activities both days. She explained that there will be some competitive cheese curling and an ice skating area (bring your own skates) set aside for all ages. Fishing assistance, equipment and a bait shop will be offered for those who wish to take advantage. 

“Everything anybody wants to come fish will be there,” Klein said.

She hopes to have an underwater camera feeding footage to a projection screen for viewing. An Xtra Mile Outdoors expert will be on site sharing his wisdom. A funny fish photo contest will also encourage participants to take their best fishing selfie (with or without a catch in hand) and tag Driftless Area Ice Fisheree or The Crooked Oar. 

One of the main highlights of the ice fisheree will be a memory board featuring pictures of anyone whose life was lost to suicide. The day’s participants are asked to bring a snapshot of their loved one and post it to the board, or contact the event Facebook page to share photos.

“I’m so thrilled about it, it gives me goosebumps,” Klein shared. “It’s for anyone who has been touched by suicide to remember their friends in a celebratory way. It’s crazy the amount of suicides that happen. I feel like we need to talk about it more, and help people in different ways where we can.”

Klein is joined by friends Amanda Fahey, Cynde Scheetz, Ryan and Maria Baker, Tom Schaefer, Jim Sickles, Melissa Jones and Cory McGeough on the planning committee for the ice fisheree. 

The mission of the Driftless Area Ice Fisheree for Suicide Awareness and Prevention is to uplift local communities in the aspects of mental health support, and spread awareness toward the goal of suicide prevention. 

“We are planning on doing many different small events in the communities targeting all types of audiences, but our main event will be the fisheree,” Klein noted. “The sky is the limit. We would like to create local peer support programs for all ages to help connect people and end the silence and stigma around suicide and mental health.”

For more information, find the Driftless Area Ice Fisheree on Facebook or email driftlessfoundation@gmail.com. 

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