The Swolfest Fishing Rodeo recently donated $250,000 toward the new Our Lady of the Lake Children Hospital, which is currently under construction, and has pledged another $250,000 to be fulfilled during the next five years, according to hospital officials.

In recognition of the combined $500,000 donation, the cafeteria in the new facility will be named after the rodeo, which has grown into a premier fishing event in the past 20 years.

“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.”

Rauber, a Baton Rouge dentist, began the tournament in 1997 as a high school student and awarded the winner with a $5 trophy. His dedication over the years not only to running a top-notch event but also to giving back to the community has catapulted Swollfest into a successful weekend-long event that also includes live music, artists and food.

Swollfest held its 20th annual fishing rodeo at the Sand Dollar Marina in Grand Isle in June, hosting more than 750 registrants. The organization has raised more than $1.4 million in 20 years to benefit various charities.

“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 Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital is set to open in 2019.