BUFORD, Ga. – When Adventure Advertising founding partner and FLW Tour angler Jason Meninger was diagnosed and treated for testicular cancer in April 2010, he set out to find a way to help children recovering from cancer and launched his first annual Make A Fish kid’s cancer survivor weekend.
Meninger approached Bill Jordan and Realtree, one of his sponsors, about hosting an unforgettable outdoor experience at Realtree Farms and worked with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) to identify a deserving family to attend the special event.
“Being diagnosed and treated for cancer opened my eyes to how this terrible disease affects so many families across the world,” states Meninger. “I was lucky to not have to endure chemo and radiation treatments. I’m very blessed and feel I now have a responsibility to do all I can to make a difference in the lives of people who are faced with much harder paths to recovery, even if only in small ways.”
CHOA is making huge strides in the fight against cancer and many other horrible illnesses that thousands of kids are stricken with. Meninger hooked up with CHOA’s Camp Sunshine program, which allows kids in recovery and their families to experience the outdoor lifestyle in an effort to bring a little joy to their lives.
“The Make A Fish weekend is a way for me to share my passion for the outdoors and provide families with an experience that will hopefully aid in the recovery of their child by providing hope for good things to come,” states Meninger. “Eighty percent of getting better is medical, and the rest is mental. Putting kids in the outdoors with their heroes gives them hope to keep fighting.”
Bill Jordan and his family and staff welcomed 14-year-old cancer survivor Chip Madren and his mother, Lea, and father, Ken, to their 2,000-acre-plus hunting and fishing preserve in Columbus, Ga., June 25-26 for an outdoor experience of a lifetime. Chip, recovering from cancer treatments associated with a brain tumor that was removed in August 2010, experienced meet-and-greets with “Realtree Outdoors” hosts David Blanton and Bill and Tyler Jordan, bass fishing on three private lakes and food, games and family fun at the Realtree Farms lodge.
“Cancer is such a terrible disease,” says Jordan. “It is especially tough to see children like Chip have to endure the treatments necessary to fight cancer. Fortunately, Chip is an incredible fighter. It was great to be able to have him and his parents get away and just enjoy time fishing and being outside. Chip is a true outdoorsman, and a good day of fishing is probably some of the best medicine he or any kid can get.”
The Madren family, and their time together, revolves around outdoor recreation. Residing in the northern Georgia suburb of Sandy Springs, they’ve always spent most of their free time either fishing or hunting prior to Chip’s surprise diagnosis. Chip’s favorite color is camouflage, and he dreams of being a professional bass fisherman someday. Chip’s story is a heartfelt one that has created a groundswell of community support on a local and national level and can be read at his website, www.chipsnation.org. CBS National News recently covered the grass-roots movement Chip’s Nation and its impact.
“We’ve been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support extended by our family, friends and community, and all of the medical teams at CHOA,” states Ken Madren. “As the story reached across the country, a groundswell of support followed, most notably from the leaders of the hunting and fishing community which happens to be at the center of Chip’s life. Outdoor industry celebrities and business owners have been quick to offer whatever they can to cheer Chip on. This weekend at Realtree is proof positive that the outdoor industry’s heart is in the right place. Chip’s Nation is now planning its evolution from a grass-roots support system for a brave child to a 401c3 conduit enabling the outdoor industry to fund and fuel the fight against pediatric cancer through Chipsnation.org.”
Realtree, Trokar, Z-Man Fishing Products, and Adventure Advertising all provided products or resources to make the first annual Make A Fish weekend an experience of a lifetime for the Madren Family. Donations for Chip’s Nation can be made at www.chipsnation.org. Families interested in participating in a future Make A Fish weekends can contact Meninger at [email protected].