Jacob Dugas Bass Classic is coming up

Anything Outdoors Helping Kids had its annual fundraiser this past Saturday at the St. Amant KC Hall. The event was welcomed by great weather (no rain) along with plenty of support from the community that helped to blow the roof off of the previous year’s totals.

This is what Jacob and Renee Heath envisioned back in 2016 when a dream in their hearts produced the 501(C)3 organization they formed after surviving a bout with their first-born son, Preston who developed a rare bone marrow disease called Severe Aplastic Anemia when he was one-and-a-half years old.

The Heath’s family ordeal started with six months of treatment at Our Lady of the Lake hospital after a lengthy diagnosis process that took a toll on all of them. Preston’s treatment did not pan out, so the doctors at the Lake told the family that St Jude and a bone marrow transplant was their only hope.

So Renee packed up Preston and their stuff along with her mother and headed to Memphis to start the process. Due to the process, the first donor had a change of heart. That was a setback. Then, after two weeks of high dose chemotherapy, Preston received his life saving bone marrow transplant on September 29, 2009. It was the day after his third birthday, culminating the 18-month process.

Preston had a lot of struggles after the transplant with many viruses, graft vs. host fevers, and too many hospital stays to count. But after seven months, Preston was able to return to Louisiana cured of Severe Aplastic Anemia. He still has annual visits to St. Jude and some side effects, but Preston is now a happy, healthy boy again!

Jacob and Renee have made it their goal to help as many kids get financial help and others the benefit of enjoying hunting and fishing that otherwise could not happen. That was the reason for the fundraising event.

The main event was the jambalaya cooking contests. Twenty cooks registered in the big pot division and 15 in the mini pot division. The cooking started at 7 a.m. and believe me, it was on!

When all the fires were turned off the judges made their decisions. Taking 1st place honors in the big pot division was Tunney King and his sous chef (helper) and son Austin King. Winning 2nd place was the team of Curt Parent and sous chef Todd Brignac. Rounding out the top three, in 3rd place was Doty Gautreau and his sous chef and son Adam Gautreau.

There are a couple of sayings about families. One is: "The family that prays together, stays together," and "The family that plays together, stays together." There is a new one in town: "The family that cooks together, wins in all!"

That’s what happened in the Mini Pot competition. First place went to mom, Tanil Thacker while 2nd place went to dad, Koby Thacker, and 3rd place was captured by son, Kade Thacker making this part a family affair. Kudos to all the cooks that participated! This event wouldn't be possible without you guys!

When all the activities (cooking contests, raffles, silent auctions and merchandise sales) were over, the result was quite staggering. Last year was the first fund raiser that netted the group $4000 dollars. This year, the tally was $24,000 dollars. That will go a long way to help kids out.

The name again is Anything Outdoors Helping Kids, and that’s what they do: help kids. The best way to find out more is on Facebook. They hold events to help support the cause all year long and sell some awesome apparel. A local group helping local kids. Thumbs up to Renee and Jacob Heath!

Jacob Dugas Bass Classic September 29

Jacob “Jake” Dugas was diagnosed with Cervical Chordoma Cancer when he was 18 years old. His problem was that a tumor in his neck was wrapped around his spinal cord. Because of the complexity of the tumor, his doctors were unsuccessful in removing the entire mass.

For the next six years of his life Jake put up a valiant fight against the cancer, enduring risky operations and more radiation treatments than he cared to remember. Jake’s fight ended on May 21, 2002 at the age of 24 after the cancer spread to his lungs.

Even with all his struggles and pain, Jacob Dugas lived his life to the fullest. His passion for fishing did not let him feel sorry for himself as he continued to excel at the sport. He continued his educational goals. After graduating from East Ascension High School, Jake earned a bachelor’s degree from LSU in wildlife and fisheries.

Jake’s abilities for catching bass led him to a successful although short professional angling career, fishing in two Bassmaster Central Opens. He finished in the money at Fort Gibson Lake in Oklahoma, taking home a $1400 dollar check. He also earned an Angler of the Year in 2001 competing in the Angler’s Choice Circuit.

So it seems only fitting to honor his memory and his fighting spirit by continuing the battle against cancer by raising money for the American Cancer Society in his name. Since Jake’s death, family and a great group of volunteers have put on a bass tournament in his name to continue that battle.

On September 29, 2018 at Doiron's Landing in Stephensville, La. the 17th Annual Jacob Dugas Tournament will take place. The cost for a team of anglers will be $183.00 with a big bass contest for $10 dollars. All the info can be obtained by calling Curt Parent at 225-337-2996 or Phillip Waguespack at 225-571-4169.

The group is proud to announce again this year the 1st place prize will be $5,000 dollars. The goal is to top last year’s donation of $15,000 dollars. All the proceeds will benefit the Jacob M. Dugas Foundation and will be donated to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Please save the date. Come out and join us for our 17th year!

We couldn’t have accomplished what we have thus far without the support of our avid fishermen and their families. We want to give a huge shout out to you for supporting us year to year! We would like to also recognize and thank our sponsors who have stood by us year to year. We could not have been as successful without your help!

We are always looking for sponsors and or donations to help our organization grow, so we can contribute as much as possible to ACS to help as many Cancer patients as we can! If you want to donate/sponsor or know someone who would, please message us on Facebook or email us at jacobdugastournament@yahoo.com.

Remember to keep the slack out and set the hook hard. Until next time, have fun in the outdoors, be safe and may God truly bless you!

Lyle Johnson is a free-lance writer, co-host of Ascension Outdoors TV and Curator of the Louisiana State Fish Records. He can be contacted at reelman@eatel.net.

Outdoor Calendar

EASL Monthly Meeting: Third Monday every month, East Ascension Sportsman’s League meeting held at Chef KD’s on Hwy 74 starting at 7 p.m. A meal served and special speaker will be in attendance.

Jacob Dugas Bass Classic: September 29 out of Doiron’s in Stephensville. Entry fee is $183 per team with a $10 big bass contest. Call Curt Parent at 225-337-2996 or Phillip Waguespack at 225-571-4169, or find them on Facebook.

Squirrel season: Oct 7-Feb 28 daily bag limit 8 possession 24.

Rabbit season: Oct 7-Feb 28 daily bag limit 8 possession 24.

Delta Waterfowl Banquet: November 2 at Lamar Dixon Expo Center starting at 6 p.m. with dinner starting at 7:30 p.m. Contact Kristen Latiolais at 225-315-3023 or email kristen.latiolais@la.gov.