Family fishing event to raise money for liver transplant
It’s a humbling experience,” says lifelong Utah resident Rod Nielsen, “to have your daughters say, ‘Please, Dad, let us help you. It’s not your time to die.’”
Humbling indeed, but that’s the situation in which Nielsen finds himself as he awaits a lifesaving liver transplant.
A rugged outdoorsman and former sheet rocker, Nielsen has always been one to help others. Now working with the Utah Division of Natural Resources, he is known for his kindness, quick wit and willingness to help others. “Last Christmas, there was a family Rod came across while working,” said Lisa Graham of DNR. “They were going through a rough time and he played Secret Santa to help the family. He wouldn’t let on that he did anything, but we all knew. He’s always helping people, but never wants the credit.” Perhaps that’s why it’s hard for him to accept help, even though he really needs it now.
“I hate asking for help,” he says, “but it’s not like I can grow a new liver, and the one I have is failing.” Add to that the complexity of the donation process, the number of people who need organs, and the many expenses that insurance won’t cover, and it’s truly an uphill battle.
With help from family, friends, neighbors and the community, Nielsen’s daughters are working hard to ease that battle. Jessica, Rod’s youngest daughter, has organized fundraisers to help others in time of need, so it was natural for her to step up and raise funds to help the effort – once she and her sister Lacy could convince him to allow their help, of course. They’re extra motivated, since they’d really like their Dad to be around for many more years to spoil his grandkids – Jessica has two sons and two daughters and Lacy is expecting her first baby in a few months. Rod and his wife Leslie, who recently celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary, are hoping he not only gets to greet his new grandson, but that he is also around to share many more years with the entire family.
Since Rod is an avid fisherman, the girls have organized a fishing derby, “Rods for Rod,” to be held on Saturday, May 23, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Salem Pond. In addition to the fishing derby, there will be a duck calling competition, games for kids, prize drawings and great food. At 11 a.m., John Bair of the Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife will conduct a live auction. Various organizations have donated prizes and items for the auction, including a $650 gun from Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife, a $700 fishing trip for six people at Strawberry Reservoir from Strawberry Bay Marina, a $500 Traeger smoker, a $3,000 Icon treadmill and more. The cost is $5 per child and $10 per adult. Admission includes use of DNR fishing poles, bait, and equipment. Anyone age 12 and older needs to have a valid Utah Fishing License to participate in the derby. Whether you fish or not, there will be fun for all – and all funds will be used to help with Rod’s medical expenses.
For more information, including advanced registration, prizes and ways to help Rod, please visit rods4rod.org or facebook.com/rodsforrod. Monetary donations can also be made via the website or at any America First Credit Union under the “Rods for Rod” account #9074667.