"Fishing Dreams" Come True For Disabled Veterans
November 2, 2016 18:37 pm CDT
TABLE ROCK LAKE, Mo. -- November normally isn't a good month to be at the lake, but conditions were perfect Wednesday morning for the first “Fishing Dreams For Veterans” program.
The new event is the result of a partnership between Bass Pro Shops and a non-profit organization called Fish Tales.
Fish Tales specializes in making special equipment allowing disabled children to fish but decided this year to expand its reach to the men and women who defend the country.
"I heard about it last week,” says U.S. Army Veteran, Tony Miller. “It's like, ‘please, oh let me be one of the people to get to go.’ I really enjoy getting out on the lake."
Miller, who is wheelchair-bound, is one of 21 disabled veterans invited to take part in the event. He spent the morning using a tailored reel that allowed him to hook a fish and pull it in, all with the touch of a single button.
"We're always trying to come up with different innovative ideas,” says J.P. Sell, creator of Fish Tales. “Different ways we can help a child, adult, whoever it may be that wants to get out in the outdoors.”
Early on, it was clear Miller and the equipment were up to the task.
"Six down, six to go," Miller said while holding up a spotted bass near the Highway 86 bridge.
"This is incredible,” he says. “Before I was injured, I used to go fishing quite a bit every summer. I will [fish] every now and again, usually not out on the lake. So this is an awesome opportunity."
Tony says it's nice to see this form of appreciation for veterans, but he says he tried to not dwell on his time in the service.
"I just go about my day, and do the things I do," he says.
But for organizers like Sell, the event is about trying to repay a debt that can never be repaid.
"We wouldn't be able to do none of this without their sacrifice,” Sell says, “or their dedication to providing our freedom to be able to do this."