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Cougars reel in scholarship money

Valenti School of Communication annual fishing tournament fundraiser Saturday

Tournament participant

When the Valenti School of Communication Alumni Association met to discuss their annual fundraiser, they decided they needed a new lure to bring in more dollars.

They wanted to host an event that would be memorable and profitable; something that would stand out in the crowded field of fundraising activities. Kimberly Maraldo, an alumni association member, shared an idea inspired by what she loves – fishing.

The result was the Cougar Saltwater Open Fishing Tournament.

Held every year since 2006, the Cougar Saltwater Open is a competition that gives local fishermen the opportunity to fish for biggest catch in four categories throughout the day – redfish, speckled trout, flounder and heaviest stringer. There is also a kids division with categories such as biggest, smallest, ugliest and most unusual fish. Attendees pay a registration fee of $65 and $20 for kids and must have a Texas fishing license.

“Our purpose is to raise money for the college and provide scholarships to incoming freshmen and undergraduates enrolled in the program,” said Ms. Maraldo, one of the event organizers and fishing enthusiast. “It is about helping students pay for their education and doing something we love.”

This year’s tournament is 6 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 11 at the Galveston Yacht Basin. Registered participants receive a t-shirt and dinner at the weigh-in/awards ceremony that follows immediately after tournament fishing ends.

The 2011 corporate sponsors include GSL Welcome Group ($2,500 donation), ACS Flooring, Spring Glass and Mirror, Crystal Communications ($1,000 donation each), and Jimenez Contract Services ($500 donation).

“Last year we raised $20,000.00, which allowed us to award $16,000 in scholarships for the 2011-2012 school yea,r” Maraldo said. “This year's goal is to raise $50,000 and we have various sponsors, including Mr. Welcome Wilson Sr.’s company to help us achieve it.”

Mark Aycock, a UH staff member and lifelong fisherman has attended the tournament every year since the first one. He said it’s become a highly-anticipated event in the Houston-Galveston fishing community.

“Our satisfaction comes from knowing that we are helping local kids fund their education and succeed in life,” Aycock said.

For more information, visit or contact Kimberly Maraldo at

Luis Zelaya

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