Swollfest pledges $500,000 to Baton Rouge children’s hospital

New cafeteria to be named after fishing rodeo at Our Lady of the Lake

Fishing in a summer rodeo is lots of fun, even if you don’t necessarily know where proceeds from the event eventually wind up.

But Grand Isle’s Swollfest rodeo is doubling down — and playing a major role in the growth of Our Lady of the Lake’s Children’s Hospital currently under construction in Baton Rouge.

The rodeo presented a $250,000 check to the Our Lady of the Lake Foundation in June, on top of an additional $250,000 pledge to be fulfilled over the next five years.

In recognition of the donation, the cafeteria in the new facility will be named after Swollfest.

Dr. Nick Rauber, a Baton Rouge dentist who started Swollfest in 1997 as a high school student when the top prize was a $5 trophy, said the rodeo has raised more than $1.4 million so far during its successful 20-year run.

“Our mission has always been to help children and armed service veterans,” Rauber said. “Knowing we had the perfect opportunity to combine all of our assets to help this wonderful hospital, right here in our own backyard, was a true honor.

“It will allow us a physical space to acknowledge our donation and continually help the children of Louisiana for years to come.”

The new freestanding hospital is set to open in 2019.

“This partnership with Swollfest is an incredible blessing for all of the children who will be treated in the new state-of-the-art Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital,” said John Paul Funes, president and CEO of Our Lady of the Lake Foundation. “Dr. Nick Rauber and his team have built the most successful fundraising tournament in the Gulf south, and we look forward to continued teamwork with Swollfest as together we aim to improve healthcare for children in Baton Rouge and across the state of Louisiana.”