This past weekend on the shores of famed Lake Guntersville, amid the autumn colors of the southern Appalachians, at a table filled with deep fried pickles and catfish fillets, was all the faith you’ll ever need to believe that young America is going to be just fine -- and that people actually win those trip-of-a-lifetime sweepstakes contests you’ve always felt were just a marketing farce.
On one side of the table, sitting next to Gerald Swindle, was Song Kimpton, Grand Prize Winner of the Quantum EXO "Fish it First" video contest. Kimpton is a very young looking, kind-hearted, 27-year-old who works 40 hours a week in an Oklahoma City convenience store to cover tuition costs associated with the 4-year degree he just earned.
And amidst Song's insane weekly schedule -- he fishes -- with concentration comparable to Gary Klein, and versatility aspiring of Swindle. In fact, Song says he makes it a soul-fulfilling point to fish at least a little bit every single day.
His first place winning video was a thing of ingenuity, passion, professionalism and desire in telling Quantum judges why he should be chosen to be among the very first anglers in America to fish with an EXO rod and reel, with Gerald Swindle as his fishing guide.
Drained by tuition and the cost of living, Kimpton found a free on-line video editing software offer to piece his winner together, but not before three filming trips to the lake with his fishing buddy Tim Untrauer’s loaned camera, and two creative 'storyboards' Kimpton scripted to make sure his story got told in perfect sequence.
Kimpton then sorted through dozens of free on-line songs in choosing background music, and surveyed friends as to which sounded best. The end result was a winner wedged between 12 full-time college credit hours, ringing-up 32-ounce fountain drinks, and a seemingly relentless pursuit of making his tomorrows better than his yesterdays.
Fittingly, the ever grateful and humble Kimpton concluded, "I think I could have made the video better, but my 30-day free trial offer expired on the editing software I was using."
Across from Swindle and Kimpton, just beyond the cole slaw, sat everything that is good about America, in the form of a quiet, good looking, mop haired, 14-year-old boy named Ian, wearing a navy blue hoodie with "Alaska" written across the chest, and his heart on his sleeve.
Even though EXO video sweepstakes rules stated Ian was too young to enter the contest, Ian did what those of us three times his age should do more often – he followed heart instead of rules, and submitted a homemade video to Quantum anyway.
Far less sophisticated than Song's video production efforts, Ian simply turned on the camera and began talking. Talking until each time his words turned to his military father, and then teardrops took over.
The hairy-chested marketing executives at Quantum teared-up too when reviewing Ian's video submission, and decided that because Ian lived within an easy drive of Guntersville, that it only made sense to invite he and his dad to dinner as 'sentimental winners.'
So there over fried pickles, sitting next to young Ian, was his dad, a former West Point linebacker, and Army man of 27 years, who's given us time in Kuwait, Iraq, and now Afghanistan. Both of them ingesting dinner and endless helpings of Swindle's humor filled wisdom. For dessert, Swindle served up private fishing lessons, and convinced Song and Ian to strike humorous poses with him for a PR guy’s camera.
The next morning, Ian and his Dad were casting for bass on Guntersville, most likely with Rapala DT10 crankbaits like the one Ian scored a 4-pounder on just hours after arriving in town the previous afternoon. Like Kimpton, the young Kessler is quite a 'stick' – admitting he too fishes every single day near home.
Simultaneously, following his day of fishing with Swindle, Song Kimpton squeaked in an extra day of fishing at Guntersville with his Dad, Ed. Their guide for the day was well-known Alabama bass angler, and 2-time Purple Heart Award winner, Harry Potts.
What Song and Ian caught at Lake Guntersville seems almost irrelevant. For already firmly in the creels of each heart at that dinner table was the equivalent of a heavy 25-pound limit of restored faith about life in America. All stemming from one of those marketing promotions 'that nobody ever wins' to tout a lightweight new 5.9-ounce fishing reel.
To view the winning EXO “Fish it First” video that Song Kimpton produced and submitted to Quantum, click here.