Andrew was diagnosed with cancer on January 1, 2009. He endured 11 months of chemotherapy and 5 weeks of radiation to his entire brain and spine. When Andrew's cancer was determined to be "terminal" on December 7, 2009, one of the questions on his "My Wishes" packet with Hospice was to think of ways he would want his memory kept alive after he died. One thing we talked about was having an annual adult/youth fishing tournament in his memory (similar to the one that he had participated in at Lake McConaughy for 6 years). Andrew loved this idea and so here we are organizing and hosting the 1st Annual Andrew Claymon Memorial Fishing Tournament in memory of our amazing son, Andrew, who loved to fish!
The following is Andrew’s story.
Andrew was born on August 31, 1993 and caught his first fish, a crappie at Merritt Reservoir, with his Mom, Dad, Grandpa Jim and fishing guide, Joe Dodd when he was not quite 2 years old. He kept saying “he could hear the fish” instead of “feeling the fish” on his fishing pole. From that time on, Andrew loved fishing and would fish at every opportunity he had. By the time he was 4 or 5 years old, he could spend 8 – 10 hours a day in a fishing boat and then BEG for the fishing day to not be over.
Starting when Andrew was 5 years old, his Grandpa Jim and Mom would plan a week long fishing trip every summer. We most often went to Merritt Reservoir but also went on 2 trips to South Dakota and fished several lakes around the Roy Lake area and in June 2007, spent an incredible week in Canada fishing for BIG northern pike and walleye. The kid could not get enough fishing!
In June 2004, Andrew fished his first tournament, the Optimist Club youth fishing tournament at Lake McConaughy in Ogallala, NE. Andrew and his partner, Steve Olofson, won 1st place that year. Andrew and Steve continued to fish this tournament every year until the summer of 2009 when Andrew fished the tournament for the last year as he would be too old the next year. In the days that preceded this last youth fishing tournament for him, Andrew spent 9 days in Children’s Hospital in Denver, CO. Andrew had been diagnosed with a very rare type of cancer (metastatic chordoma; only 5 cases a year in children) on January 1, 2009. He had undergone extremely aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments to his entire brain and spine since January 12, 2009 and was in the hospital for fever, neutropenia, malnutrition and blood transfusions. Every morning when the doctors would do their rounds and come into Andrew’s room, he would remind them that he needed to be out of the hospital no later than June 17th because he had plans to go stay with his fishing partner, Steve, in Ogallala and fish the tournament on June 20th. Andrew’s wishes came true as at 10:30 at night on Tuesday, June 16th the doctors released him from the hospital. Andrew was vomiting several times a day, had not eaten since the end of March, was on IV nutrition thru his surgically implanted IV line for 12 hours every night, and was taking about 10 pills a day to try and manage his nausea. Amazingly, Andrew fished the tournament with Steve on June 20th; his last fishing tournament. He didn’t feel well and was not able to fish the entire day, but he did it! He then went on to fish 7 days straight at Merritt Reservoir with his Mom and Grandpa Jim and some days with Uncle Randy, Aunt Julie and his good friend and fishing guide, John Nadolski, and a day of casting spinner baits for walleyes with his friend, John Bauer, owner of Merritt Trading Post.
Andrew continued on his chemotherapy treatments until December 7, 2009, when a CT scan revealed a large mass in his right lung. His cancer had returned and the doctors stopped curative treatments. Due to the aggressive nature of Andrew’s cancer and the lack of clinical trials available for his type of cancer and his age, there were no other options for Andrew. The doctors gave him 6 to 12 weeks to live and instead Andrew lived and lived greatly for 7 months. During these 7 months, he fished every chance he could. One of his dreams was to own his own fishing boat. We brought him his own boat from Young’s Marine in North Platte, NE and he sat in it for the first time on February 24, 2010. Andrew named his boat the “Walleye Whacker” and he was able to fish from his boat many times; Falcon Lake in Texas, Table Rock Lake in Missouri and numerous outings on Merritt Reservoir in April, May and June 2010. When he became too sick, weak and in need of oxygen to go out in his boat, he fished from shore. Andrew caught his last fish from the shores of Merritt Reservoir 9 days before he died on July 5, 2010.
This fishing tournament is in memory of Andrew and his love for fishing and Merritt Reservoir.