Local business owner and philanthropist Al Louis has raised more than $100,000 for area nonprofits in his third annual “Al’s Musky Challenge,” the most the fundraiser has ever amassed in a year dedicated to the memory of a fellow philanthropist.
Through the Rotary Club of downtown La Crosse, the fundraiser collects pledges for every musky Louis catches while on a summer fishing expedition, and this year the avid fisherman set multiple records while reeling for the elusive fish.
This year’s challenge raised more money than in years past through the nine muskies Louis caught, one of which beat his personal best at just over 54 inches long — just inches away from the state record Louis has been eyeing.
All of the proceeds from this year’s fundraiser are headed to the Children’s Miracle Network, Children’s Museum of La Crosse, Coulee Recovery Center and the La Crosse Community Theatre, which were all nonprofits that were beloved by late Rotarian David Amborn, who helped Louis launch his “Musky Challenge.”
“I wanted to pay tribute to David and all he meant to me and our community by supporting these nonprofit organizations that meant a lot to him,” Louis said in a statement. “David often said, ‘Let’s do it for the kids.’ This year, we added, ‘Let’s do it for David.’”
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Louis’ fundraiser has only grown since he first started it in 2019, where he raised just over $4,000 for the Parenting Place in La Crosse. He raised more than tenfold that amount in 2020, collecting $45,500 for New Horizons Shelter and Outreach Center, and has now more than doubled that amount in 2021.
Louis caught his fish on Lake Vermillion in Minnesota, heading on the water twice a week from mid-July into September. This year’s donations were provided by businesses, fellow Rotary members, Louis and his family and other community members who pledged a certain amount of money per musky caught.
A check will be given to the area nonprofits receiving this year’s contributions at a ceremony in Riverside Park at noon Friday, Oct. 15.
"I wanted to pay tribute to David (Amborn) and all he meant to me and our community by supporting these nonprofit organizations that meant a lot to him."
Al Louis, local business owner and philanthropist