Audrey Champagne Raziano says when her family first began the Fishing for Frankie fundraiser tournament to honor the memory of her brother, nobody ever dreamed it would endure the test of time like it has, a community staple for more than a decade – and that’s why last year’s forced cancellation due to COVID-19 was tough to accept.
That hiatus is over, and the tourney around the corner. Fishing for Frankie returns Aug. 7 at Somme’s Marina in Des Allemands. Check in begins at 4:30 a.m. and weigh in is set for noon.
This year’s event will raise money to benefit Bridgette Oubre and her family. Oubre, a Norco resident and kindergarten teacher at Norco Elementary School, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2017, which required a surgical resection to remove 75 percent of her colon and 12 rounds of chemotherapy. The treatment worked in the short term, but in 2020 she was diagnosed with cancer for a second time, with the illness found in her brain and abdomen. She underwent two brain surgeries, followed by radiation and chemotherapy, to address the tumors, and is currently in the midst of 28 rounds of radiation therapy to shrink the tumors in her abdomen.
Due to the close proximity of the tumors to her kidney and ureters, she needed a stent in her kidney and added chemotherapy for tumors found in her liver. Oubre will soon be traveling to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for specialized treatment.
Oubre and her husband Richie, a St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy for the past 24 years, have two children, Brandon, 21, and Molly, 18. Oubre has been a teacher for 24 years.
Raziano said the tournament was a way to give back to two members of the community who have served it for many years. As a teacher, Oubre has especially touched many, many lives, Raziano said.
“Teachers have such a special place in our hearts,” Raziano said. “In many cases, kids spend more time with their teachers than with mom and dad. They help mold our kids.”
Fittingly in a way, Raziano said she learned of the Oubres’ plight through a friend of her late brother and, of course, the event namesake. The tournament proceeds will help offset the family’s medical and travel expenses.
This will be the 12th year of the Fishing for Frankie tournament, which began as a way to honor the memory of Frankie Champagne Jr., a resident of Luling who passed away in 2007 following a battle with lung cancer and who was known for his generous and uplifting nature.
Raziano has noted during Champagne’s battle, he would deflect attention from himself ask that funds raised to help him also go toward helping others. That unselfishness and desire to look beyond himself to help others made it a natural choice to create a tournament in his name that would help others. It’s fulfilled his wishes year after year.
“It means so much to us,” Raziano said. “As a family, we talk about how we never, ever expected it to become what it has. To think back then, we could look forward and say, ‘Wow, we’ll still be at it in 2021,’ it’s amazing. You put on an event and just hope people show up, and then every year so many people are there … I can never say enough about the support we get from St. Charles Parish and its surrounding areas. It really touches you.”
Raziano said “it was kind of rough being unable to have it” last year, because the tournament represents keeping Frankie’s name alive.
There was no guarantee it would be back this year, given the uncertainty surrounding everything in the pandemic fallout. But she said near the end of April, Gov. John Bel Edwards’ statewide easing of restrictions made it once again viable, and the tournament was officially on.
“I think it’s great as well because it’s something normal,” Raziano said. “So many people need normalcy after the past year of a pandemic.”
The entry fee for the event is $100 per boat, with a maximum of two people per boat. There will be a DJ, food and drinks available for purchase, as well as an auction, 50/50 raffle and a football pool.
For more information, one may contact Raziano at (985) 703-0135 or April Sellers at (504) 756-7020. E-mail is another option, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There will also be a blood drive for Oubre held on July 21 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Sheriff’s Office Headquarters on Judge Edward Dufresne Parkway. To schedule an appointment, visit this link.