Annual fishing derby supports cancer research for 30+ years

Steve Bateman started planning the Harry A. Bateman Memorial Jimmy Fund Fishing Derby after he lost his father, Harry, to lung cancer at age 51 in 1992. Harry was a community leader and friend to many, with passions for hunting, fishing, and enjoying life with his family and friends. Steve knew that the best way to honor his father’s legacy was to create an annual fishing derby to keep Harry’s spirit alive, and he chose to donate all proceeds to the Jimmy Fund to support cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The derby is held at Onata Lake in Pittsfield, Mass., and is a morning of friendly competition where participants are seeking to catch the heaviest fish. Lunch is provided for everyone to come together after the competition and enjoy themselves, while bidding on opportunity drawings to win prizes from individuals and businesses throughout the local community. Steve has prioritized a kid-friendly environment, with eight of the 15 trophies given out dedicated to child participants.

Steve acknowledges that there are often some late nights when you’re planning an event and working full time, but he feels confident that it’s all worth it when he sees children and their families enjoying themselves at the derby. “We’ve seen kids catch their first fish and have introduced them to a lifelong passion,” he shares. “That’s what keeps me motivated. I love seeing people out there having a good time and even have generous friends who donate money to allow families in the community to attend, even if they don’t have the financial means to pay for their own tickets.” The Batemans have seen remarkable growth since the start of this derby. Steve recalls 50 people coming in the pouring rain in 1992 to support the cause and is amazed that it has transformed into an event with over 300 participants, spanning multiple generations.  

Steve emphasized the importance of having a strong support system, when asked what advice he would give to a fellow Jimmy FundRaiser—a community event organizer for the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber—thinking about starting their own event. “Secure the place, a core group of people, great prizes, and make sure to your attendees are going to have a great time. That’s what keeps them coming back,” he says. The Harry Bateman Fishing Derby has been successful because Steve assigns roles to his committee and delegates tasks to make sure that every piece of the event is seamless, from the weighing of the fish to serving burgers and hotdogs by the picnic tables.

Steve is incredibly proud of his committee that has allowed this derby to thrive for 30 years. When asked what inspires him to keep going, he shares: “It’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and children battling cancer in the Jimmy Fund Clinic. I saw what happened during my father’s cancer journey and never want to see a child, and their family, going through that. I am confident that donations from our fishing derby can help Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund find breakthroughs that will ultimately lead to cures. Cancer has affected so many families, like mine, and I plan to hold this event as long as I can to do my part to create hope for these patients and families.”

If you are interested in hosting your own virtual or in-person event for the Jimmy Fund, fill out our online inquiry form or contact our community events team at

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