Local man wins fishing tournament, donates prize money to Make-A-Wish

Even more impressive than the big haul of fish Bellefontaine’s Mike Defibaugh turned in after the final day of the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour event on Lake Erie last week was what he did next.

After being presented a new boat and first-place prize money of $15,000, he announced on stage that he was donating the $15,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Make-A-Wish grants requests of children diagnosed with life-threatening ailments.


Bellefontaine’s Mike Defibaugh holds the first-place trophy and a check for his winnings following the Cabela’s National Walleye Tour event last week on Lake Erie near Huron. (CABELA’S NWT PHOTO)

“This is something I have dreamed of for my whole life, being able to fish on the professional level,” said Defibaugh in a press release. “When my wife and kids starting hollering for me on day one, that was me getting to live my dream. I wanted to let the kids get a chance to live their dreams, too.”

Defibaugh was in 22nd after the first day of the tournament, but weighed in five fish totaling 42.26 pounds on day two to vault to the top spot. His two-day total of 64.65 was over two pounds more than second-place finisher Mike Buddie.

Defibaugh’s winnings included a Ranger 1880 boat with an Evinrude outboard.

A longtime tournament fisherman, Defibaugh recently made the decision to become a pro.

“(My wife and I) talked about it all winter,” said Defibaugh. “I’ve been blessed with a job that keeps all the bills paid with a little left over to put gas in the boat and buy a few worms. We decided any cash winnings won this year would go to the local Make-A-Wish chapter.”

The Cabella’s National Walleye Tour features three regular-season events, with a three-day championship tournament at the end of the season.