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Fishing tournament aims at fighting cancer, helping families

In the past, former New York Yankee John Ellis of Old Saybrook has dined with baseball greats Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and Mariano Rivera as part of his Connecticut Sports Foundation fundraisers to help patients and their families fight cancer.

Now, Ellis is out promoting another foundation fundraiser, this time on the water: Brewer Pilots Point/Sea Tow Fishing Against Cancer Tournament, Sept. 15-16.

And he’s got another great hook to dangle in front of local fisherman: Everyone will get to compete against world record holder Greg Myerson, whose 82-pound striped bass pulled in four years ago broke by three pounds the International Game Fish Association record that had stood for 29 years

“Everyone knows the greatest fisherman in your area,” Ellis said during an interview at Three Belles Marina in Niantic. “You always want to fish against the best.”

Teams of up to six are being sought, with each participant kicking in $50 and aiming to raise a total of $1,000 through family, associates and friends.

Total tournament prize money is $10,000. The top prize in the catch-and-release tournament, $3,000, goes to the fisherman who lands the biggest striped bass.

Based at Brewers Pilots Point Marina in Westbrook, the overnight tournament in New York and Connecticut waters begins right after a captain’s meeting at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15.

The competition concludes at 4 p.m. the next day.

“This is really about bragging rights,” Ellis said. “You got to know where the fish are, and you gotta be able to catch them.”

The nonprofit Connecticut Sports Foundation Inc., recently renamed the Connecticut Cancer Foundation, has been in existence now for 30 years, having given away more than $4 million for cancer patient assistance to more than 4,000 families, according to its literature. It also has donated more than $1.7 million to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Ellis said he lost three relatives to cancer, including a brother and a sister, all before the age of 40. He also faced a cancer scare before 40, surviving stage 3 Hodgkin lymphoma.

“When all those people die before you and you make that promise (to help fight cancer), you do it forever,” Ellis said. “I know so many people who need our help.”

One of those people is a 3-year-old named Joshua, a homeless child who is fighting leukemia. He and two other siblings currently live at Ronald McDonald House, but they are trying to find permanent housing while his single mom takes time off from work to help her son.

“I am absolutely confident that the ... tournament will raise at least $50,000, which will be so great for Joshua and for hundreds of other cancer patients,” Ellis said in an email.

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