Ron Ryals and Ken DaVault took top honors for the 2013 season of Paralyzed Veterans of America’s Bass Tour, which wrapped up Sept. 22 in Eufala, OK.
Ron Ryals - Paralyzed Veterans of America 2013 Bass Tour Angler of the Year - Open
Ken DaVault - Paralyzed Veterans of America 2013 Bass Tour Angler of the Year - Bank
Ron Ryals of Live Oak, FL, who was paralyzed at just five years old in 1983 as a result of a surgical mishap, won Angler of the Year with a cumulative 562 out of 570 possible points.
Ryals’ top score earned him an invitation to fish in the 2013 B.A.S.S. Nation Championship, which will take place Oct. 24-26 on Lake Dardanelle in Russelville, AR. Ryals will compete against 56 other anglers from six regions, with the best from each region earning a spot at the Bassmaster Classic – the Super Bowl of fishing – in Guntersville, AL, in February.
“To have a chance to send one of our guys for a qualifier for that tournament is an amazing opportunity,” said Alan Earl, associate director of sports and recreation at Paralyzed Veterans of America. “Ron is not a paralyzed veteran but is a wheelchair user, and he’s a great representative for our sport.”
Following Ryals, the top five anglers in this year’s Open Division competition were:
2nd place: Jason Swanson, Plano, Texas: 552 points
3rd place: Dean Morris, Tavares, Fla.: 549 points
4th place: Kurt Glass, Grovetown, Ga.: 535 points
5th place: Jack Barber, West, Texas: 531 points
In the Bank Competition, Ken Devault of Silver Spring, MD, won Bank Angler of the Year with a cumulative 564 out of 570 possible points. DaVault was teaching at a Military Dependents School in Germany when he fell down a flight of stairs and suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. The accident left Ken with impaired vision in one eye as well as the loss of his ability to balance and walk.
This was DaVault’s third consecutive year winning top honors in the Bank Angler competition.
“Kenny travels all around the country to do this, and he does it for therapy,” Earl said. “He loves what he does and gives everything he has back into the sport. It’s been very beneficial for him, so it’s nice to see him win.”
Following DaVault, the top three anglers in this year’s Bank Division competition were:
2nd place: Donna Hendrickson, Athens, Texas: 429 points
3rd place: Kevin Teeman, Roland, Okla.: 215 points
Participation in the 2013 season of the Paralyzed Veterans of America Bass Tour increased in part thanks to some format changes, including making start times a half hour later, allowing more time for anglers to get to the lake at those early morning hours, Earl said. Bass Tour leadership also made it possible in the 2013 season for novice anglers in the bank division to fish for just one day of a tournament.
“We really changed our focus this past year to the Paralyzed Veterans' member and the novice angler who does not get to go out fishing in tournament style,” Earl said. “We are going to build on that in the 2014 season and start focusing on Paralyzed Veterans' members who usually don’t get out and anyone else who doesn’t want to tournament fish.”
Due to some fiscal year changes, the 2014 season of the Paralyzed Veterans of America Bass Tour will be reduced from seven stops to five and will run only in the spring. The season will kick off in Kissimmee, FL, March 28-30, and will end with tour’s premier event – the Capital Classic – in La Plata, MD, June 6-8.
“The 2014 season will be tough and quick, but we’re going to see some great lakes,” Earl said, adding that the tour in 2015 will resume its normal format of a seven-stop tour running September through July.
Paralyzed Veterans of America members who wish to get involved with the Bass Tour can visit www.PVABassTour.org , or visit the tour’s Facebook page. Grants also are available for certain members to cover entry fee costs. “If you want to go fishing, we’ll get you fishing,” Earl said.
Learn more about adaptive sports opportunities available from Paralyzed Veterans of America
Brittany Ballenstedt is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in several publications, including Government Executive, National Journal, Technology Daily and NextGov.com.