Fishin’ for the right reasons

It was hard to be at Oak Mountain State Park last week and not feel as if you were part of something special.

For three days from May 14-16, Exceptional Anglers brought the joy of fishing to hundreds of special-needs students from across Shelby and Jefferson counties during the annual “Gone Fishin’ Not Just Wishin’” event at the state park’s lake.

Judging by some of the comments Shelby County Reporter staff writer Molly Davidson heard while covering the event on May 16, Gone Fishin’ is something kids from across the Birmingham area look forward to every year.

During each of the event’s three days, dedicated fishing coaches introduce the students to fishing, teaching them basic techniques such as casting and helping them reel in their catches from a perfectly built deck overlooking the lake.

Gone Fishin’ gives the kids chances to experience something they may not otherwise get to. We believe every child should get the chance to experience the

excitement of reeling in a big catch at least once, and Exceptional Anglers has done that each year for the past two decades.

“This gives our students with disabilities a chance to come and fish,” Jefferson County Adaptive Physical Education Specialist Dr. Pamela Rush said. “It’s the first time (for many of them), and the only time for some.”

Throughout the event, the state park closed off a portion of the lake and generously stocked the area surrounding the fishing deck, guaranteeing each child got to reel in at least one fish.

In addition to fishing, students also got the chance to participate in a variety of other activities, including painting, jewelry making, music and dancing.

We applaud all of the more than 300 volunteers who take the time every year to make sure local special- needs children get to experience something every child deserves to. Long after the children forget how many fish they caught, they will always remember the perfect day they had while visiting Oak Mountain State Park.

The editorial is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.