James Watson prides himself on being one of the more colorful personalities in the sport, but on Thursday his charity work for the Shriners Hospitals for Children was recognized as he was honored as this year’s recipient of the Forrest Wood Sportsmanship and Community Leader Award.
Watson said it came as a surprise when Wood got on stage at the pre-tournament banquet and began talking about a certain individual’s work with the charity.
“I was surprised when Forrest got up there and started speaking,” Watson said. “Then he started talking about the Shriner’s Hospital and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m about to get called on stage.’ It was really cool to receive that award.”
Watson, a longtime member of the Shriners, said his idea to organize a pledge campaign for the Shriner’s Hospital for Children came about before the season.
Ultimately, Watson decided to donate $2.50 per pound of bass he caught during the 2018 FLW Tour season. He got several other anglers to pledge a per-pound amount while others gave flat-rate donations. By Friday afternoon, the total raised exceeded $12,500, all of which will go directly to Shriner’s International.
“That way, every penny we raise goes straight to the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children,” Watson said.
Watson hopes to make this a recurring effort.
“We’re hoping that they’ll sit down and talk to us this fall about making this an annual deal,” Watson said.