From humble beginnings selling individual buzz baits out of the back of his dad’s liquor store in central Missouri, to a meteoric rise to multibillionaire, Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris is a textbook example of the good old fashioned American dream.
Despite his fortune and the unimaginable amount of things he’s crossed off his bucket list in life, he never forgot where he came from.
He’s incredibly philanthropic and has not only created thousands of jobs, but also given so much back to the Springfield, Missouri community where his corporation is headquartered.
There’s no doubt that the experiences that Morris (who also owns Cabela’s) had fishing as a kid shaped the rest of his life and career and ultimately inspired arguably the most prominent outdoors brand in the country.
In recognition of the important life lessons kids can undoubtedly learn from fishing, his companies are doing something amazing.
“If there was a bright spot from this past year, it was the unprecedented interest of families wanting to get outside and go fishing.
The most special memories in life come from spending time in nature with those you care about. For me, it all started with fishing, which is why we’re proud to donate thousands of fishing poles to help kids discover the joys of fishing this summer.”
The Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s kids “Gone Fishing” program is donating more than 40,000 fishing rods and reels to non-profit organizations around the country.
A portion of the donations will focus specifically on organizations that serve you from underprivileged, minority, and urban backgrounds who may not otherwise have access to the equipment or skills they need to begin fishing.
This weekend and next weekend, all Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s locations will be hosting live fishing events for kids.
On June 12th and 13th, as well as June 19th and 20th, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Activities include free fishing and casting lessons as part of the pledge to help motivate kids to put down their digital devices and pick up a fishing pole. Details and specifics will vary by location, so please check in with the store in your area if you have additional questions.
“TAKE A KID FISHING, YOU’LL BE HAPPY YOU DID”
“We are challenging families everywhere to get off the couch and discover the fun of fishing this summer.
Over 400,000 products in the last five years have been donated to nonprofit youth organizations nationwide to help get more kids outside. Join the movement and pledge to take someone fishing.”
An outline for includes several aspects that will provide valuable information, including:
-A Free Catch-And-Release Ponds: Kids can experience the excitement of fishing at in-store catch-and-release ponds and earn a free “First Fish Certificate” from FLW (Fishing League Worldwide) to celebrate their achievement.
-A Free Fishing 101 Guide: Free copies of “Nibbles & Bites” teach the fundamentals of fishing. The informational guide is available while supplies last.
-A Free Giveaways & Take-Home Crafts: After completing the catch-and-release pond, kids will receive free take-home crafts and giveaways while supplies last.
Even if you can’t attend this weekend, you can still get in on the fun and even potentially win a free gift card. If you get out fishing this weekend, take a picture, and use the hashtag #gonefishing, tag @bassproshops or @cabelas, and most importantly tag and challenge three people to take a kid fishing, then you’ll get entered for a chance to win.
An official press release about this year’s events indicates that Johnny Morris, Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s have donated more than 500,000 products to youth-focused nonprofit organizations across North America and helped millions of families catch their first fish, with over 150,000 kids participating in free events.
The majority of the rods are actually donated by customers this spring in exchange for discounts on new gear. Bass Pro Shops covers the cost and labor of refurbishing each and every gently used rod and reel that gets donated in order to ensure they are fish-catching-ready for the kids.