June 13, 2013 | Volume 43, Number 23

Fisherman's effort aims to help hospital

A commercial gillnet fisherman has launched an effort aimed at raising money for the Seattle Children’s Hospital, and he’s hoping to get competing gear groups working together on the project.

Jason Shull of Haines said he’s hoping to raise $30,000 this year through his “Haul for Hope” campaign that may be capped with a banquet later in the year.

Shull said he started thinking about how he could make a contribution when his 10-year-old daughter was hospitalized at the Seattle hospital in February with an unknown illness later diagnosed as pancreatitis.

Doctors don’t understand what made his daughter become ill, but she has since made a full recovery. The suffering and courage of other children struck him, Shull said. “Every day children fought to stay alive while my daughter received her treatment. Some were not successful.”

He said he was especially taken by the story of a 5-year-old fatally injured in a car wreck whose donated organs saved the lives of other children.

“At that sheer moment alone it was so obvious to me there was a lot of work I could do in my position. I’m healthy. I’m doing okay in my profession. I could make a difference,” Shull said.

But he wanted his efforts to help more than the hospital. Shull, who recently served three years as president of Lynn Canal Gillnetters, started thinking of building bridges between warring gear groups that compete for fishery harvest allocations.

“I wanted to help not just kids. I wanted to create a better atmosphere for us. We’re all told as kids that we should turn the other cheek, and you reap what you sow, but it’s different in day- to-day life. I thought what better group than fishermen. We’re fighting all the time, and we’re in a pretty good financial situation right now where we could help,” Shull said.

He said he’ll be reaching out to groups like the Southeast Alaska Seiners’ Association and the Alaska Trollers Association.

Including through a website he has set up, Shull is hoping to raise $15,000 by summer’s end, and then match that amount with money from fishermen, possibly including a post-season banquet like the Fishermen’s Ball, a post-season bash once held here.

Shull is encouraging fishermen to wait until after the season to donate. To the permit-holder making the biggest donation, he’s planning to offer a custom-embroidered “highliner” jacket depicting the fisherman’s boat. “My hope is that it becomes a competitive thing between captains” at an outcry auction at the banquet, he said. 

Citing the care his family received during his daughter’s hospitalization, Shull said the hospital is deserving of support. Besides a swimming pool and areas for children and family activities like arts and crafts and board games, the hospital offers parents things like free massages. “Some families are there for a long time. They might be there for months… Every single time a nurse would leave (our daughter’s) room, she’d make eye contact with us and ask whether we needed anything. That kind of stuff makes a big difference,”

Shull has created a website that includes background on the project and a place contributors can donate with a credit card. It’s at giveto.seattlechildrens.org/haulforhope.