Eight years ago, a fishing tournament was established to help Luling’s Frankie Champagne during his battle with cancer. Champagne has since passed — the same cannot be said of his name, his memory and the things he stood for.Nor the tournament established for him: the Fishing for Frankie Memorial Bass Tournament will take place for the eighth consecutive year this Saturday. This year’s tournament will be held at Somme’s Marina in Des Allemands on Saturday and proceeds from the tournament will go toward helping offset the medical expenses of Janice Rome Vicknair, who was diagnosed with stage 4 cholangiocarcinoma four years ago. The tournament has been held to benefit someone in need throughout its run and is hosted by the family and friends of Champagne Jr. and the South Louisiana Team Trail.
The tournament usually draws around 200 people, with 30 to 40 boats setting out for the day’s big catch.
Audrey Champagne Raziano, who is Frankie Champagne’s sister, said her brother was a giving person, and even when the tournament was to benefit his own recovery, he would ask to allow others in need to share in the proceeds.
“He was so humbled that so many people supported him,” Raziano said. “’I can’t believe people are doing this for me,’ he’d say. And he always wanted to help someone else. He’d say, ‘we need to share this.’ So for us, we feel the best way to honor him and keep his memory alive is to do just that and try to help someone in the best way we can.”
Raziano said she hoped the new location might spawn a few more entrants than usual, as she noted Somme’s Marina offers a bit more space to operate. In the past, the tournament had been held at Pier 90 in Avondale. She said the tournament usually hosts between 24 and 38 teams, the number fluctuating through the years often dependent on weather. Last year, 26 teams participated.
“From what I understand, the fish have been biting pretty good out there,” Raziano said. “I think we’ll see a nice turnout.”
The tournament has grown through the years. Raziano said that typically, calls inquiring about the event begin rolling in during March.
She said the aim is to provide a family-friendly event for all to enjoy.
“It will be a long and fun day,” she said. “The community support has been overwhelming.”
Vicknair, the tournament beneficiary, has battled cancer that she was told the survival rate with treatment would be nine to 12 months with treatment. While she’s beat that estimate, doctors recently found a second instance of cancer in her left thigh bone which necessitated surgery and a rod to be inserted, interrupting her regular treatment. She has had to make regular trips to seek specialized treatment in Houston.
“We want to do anything we can to take the load off of her,” Raziano said. “If we can alleviate any bit of strain or stress for her, we hope to do just that.”
Check in for the tournament begins 4:30 a.m. at Somme’s. Registrations will be accepted until noon. Weigh-in takes place at noon. For more information on the tournament, contact Audrey Raziano at 985-703-0135.