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It's common for pro athletes to hold golf tournaments or spend the day in a fishing boat to support good causes, but former American League MVP Justin Morneau has taken his celebrity to the ice.

The Justin Morneau Ice Fishing Classic opens its fourth year Saturday on Mille Lacs to benefit military families via the United Heroes League. Last year, the event attracted nearly 2,000 contestants. This year, organizers hope to raise $80,000 by drawing closer to 4,000 anglers. A $20 ticket covers entry and a chance at door prizes. You don't have to fish to buy a ticket.

"Down the road, if we can sell 5,000 tickets we'd raise a hundred grand,'' said Jay Lorek, a U.S. Navy veteran who works at UPS, a primary backer of the event. "Justin has been a great host.''

The retired Twins slugger and four-time All Star said he doesn't ice fish as much as he'd like to —only a couple of times a year. But he gladly lent his name to the Mille Lacs tournament after initially serving as its "ambassador.''

In its history, the United Heroes League nonprofit has provided millions of dollars worth of free sports equipment, game tickets, training and cash grants to benefit kids of military families. The effort helps the families afford youth sports, primarily hockey and baseball.

"We didn't have a ton of money growing up,'' said Morneau, who was raised near Vancouver, British Columbia. "I was someone who had help to play sports … so the concept to me makes a ton of sense.''

The Classic, based out of Nitti's Hunters Point Resort in Isle, runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The four prize categories are walleye, perch, northern pike and "other" (bass and burbot excluded). Registered walleyes must be legal size according to Department of Natural Resources regulations, meaning between 21-23 inches or over 28 inches. All other walleyes must be released immediately.

Lorek said organizers this year have sweetened the pot with a trove of door prizes and festivities that start Friday under a heated tent. Morneau fishes Friday with guest families.