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Third NFL player coming for Hometown Heroes Muskie Challenge

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BRASHER FALLS - A third former National Football League player has signed on for the Sept. 8 Hometown Heroes Muskie Challenge and Riverfest in Brasher Falls.

Monte Spencer, who played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will join Eddie Kidd, who played for the Oakland Raiders, and Sam Kennedy, who was a member of the San Francisco 49’ers, for the event which will pair up local volunteers with Wounded Warriors from Fort Drum for a day of catch-and-release muskie fishing on the St. Regis and Deer rivers.

“He reached out to us through our (Wounded Warriors Outdoors Adventures) site,” FISHCAP Advisory Board member Robert Giordano said.

Mr. Spencer was a nose guard for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then battled throat cancer, Mr. Giordano said.

“He’s a cancer survivor. He recuperated from cancer and now he’s in the FLW Hall of Fame for bass fishing,” Mr. Giordano said.

Mr. Spencer will be joining Mr. Kidd and Mr. Kennedy for a flag football game against area youth and will also be filming a television show while in the area.

“He’s still out doing what he loves,” Mr. Giordano said.

He said football jerseys for the game were made by River Rat Design in Ogdensburg.

“She went out and made football jerseys for the kids, 11 jerseys for the Oakland Raiders fans and 11 jerseys for the San Francisco 49’ers fans. The flag football game with the players will be at the end of the night. The players are very excited about it. We hope kids from all the surrounding towns come and get to meet the players,” he said.

The flag football game, along with a kids’ Kick, Punt and Pass contest with the NFL players is among a number of events that will be taking place on Sept. 8 for the Wounded Warriors, their families and the community. The event is being presented by Brasher Falls community leaders and representatives of FISHCAP, the initiative that promotes the St. Lawrence River Valley as a premier fishing destination.

Several dozen soldiers from Fort Drum are expected to participate in the muskie tournament, accompanied by local guides. Registration and breakfast is from 6 to 7 a.m. at the American Legion in Brasher. Fishing follows until 3 p.m. The awards ceremony, which is open to the public, takes place at 4 p.m. at the Riverview Restaurant.

The Kick, Punt and Pass contest and a youth exhibition football game kicks off at 6 p.m. at the Tri-Town Arena. Other free events include a bouncy house and water slide for kids from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; kids’ fishing hole and mini-golf from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; face painting from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; horse-drawn wagon rides for children from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; wine tasting at Spirts of Downtown from 1 to 3 p.m.; and fire and rescue department demonstrations.

A poker run is also planned, with registration from 1 a.m. to noon at the Tri-Town IGA. The entry fee is $5.

Riverfest, which kicks off on Sept. 7 at the Riverview Restaurant, will continue on Sept. 8 with bands and barbecue featured all weekend.

Volunteer organizers have been busy over the past months planning for the event.

“I think they’re doing an outstanding job. Brasher has organized the event and done a terrific job of getting volunteers and the whole town behind it. I’m very impressed with John Ward and all the businessmen in Brasher Falls. This was the most organized I’ve seen. The whole town got behind the effort to do this, and FISHCAP is doing a great job,” Mr. Giordano said.

“FISHCAP got the ball rolling with the Wounded Warriors Outdoors Adventures. The Wounded Warriors Project is huge in the country right now. The idea was to use the connections of FISHCAP and the Wounded Warriors Outdoor Adventures and have the community embrace their own event. We helped them with all the other stuff. The grassroots part of it, they are doing all of the planning with volunteers,” he said.

The event has gotten attention outside of Northern New York, he said, with companies from throughout the United States providing donations.

“Right now we’ve got these national companies that are calling up to donate for our event. That’s how national this event has gone. A lot of sponsors are joining us and sending stuff for kids and anglers. It’s also bringing people that are involved in the fishing world to come up to the event. It’s very exciting,” Mr. Giordano said.

They have also been contacted by another Wounded Warrior group, Heroes on the Water, that has 36 chapters throughout the United States.

“They do kayak fishing. The president is a pilot for American Airlines. He’s sending up Butch Newell, his regional director. He’s coming up for the event and bringing kayaks. They were established in Texas and have several chapters. Now they’re branching up to New York. We’ll introduce them to some individuals up here to get a New York chapter for kayak fishing,” he said.

Brasher Falls Bed & Breakfast and the North Lawrence VFW are among the sponsors and supporters of the event, which Mr. Giordano said will be a win-win for everyone.

“Brasher might not have been on the map before this event. Companies from around the country know where Brasher is now,” he said. “It’s good for everyone. It’s good for the town. It’s great for the warriors and their families. The bottom line is, people are doing it for the right reasons.”

For more information on the day, contact the Tri-Town Chamber of Commerce, www.tritownchamberofcommerce.com, or email info@fishcap.net.

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