"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing it is not fish that they are after." -- Henry David Thoreau
Real fishermen understand that. Lamar Holley, of Lawrenceville is one of them.
For years the retired minister has been organizing fishing events for families living with autism. Two weeks ago at his KidStuff golfing fundraiser, former Braves pitcher Phil Niekro helped reel in community support, including a crew of volunteers from Best Buys in Duluth.
"The fishing events are a safe, relaxed environment where parents don't have to worry about other people who don't understand autism judging their children," Claire Dees, director of Spectrum, a parent support group said. "There can be a lot of stress in raising a child with autism. We've had parents say that this was the first time they ever enjoyed being with their child."
On June 9, KidStuff will hold their Fifth Family Fun and Fishing Festival in Grayson. Families can register at www.atl-spectrum.com
While Holley tries to ensure that every child catches a fish, he said, "It's mostly about seeing families love and laugh together."
Gordon Walker, of Lawrenceville also understands. Walker is active in Fly Fishing for Vets.
"We just had our 3rd annual Fly Fishing for Vets day at Paces Mill Park. It was a huge success. Aside from the vets from the Atlanta area, there was a bus load from the wounded transition battalion at Fort Benning," Walker said. "We have also started this year to teach fly tying classes at Shepard Spinal Center. The people at this location have injuries to the brain or spine and have trouble concentrating or focusing on a task. After a couple classes, some doctors wanted to sit in to see first hand what we were doing because some patients showed a noticeable improvement after coming to the class. Fly tying, like fly fishing is a serene, calming hobby that many vets need to help ease the recovery process." (For more information visit flyfishingforvets.com)
Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation also gets it when it comes to fishing being about more than just the fish. This Saturday at their Kids Fishing Day at Jones Bridge Park, GCPR will provide rods, bait and prizes for beginning and advanced anglers alike. No fishing license is required.
Longtime volunteer Bill Talbot of the Alpharetta-Johns Creek Kiwanis explains why he is hooked on the event.
"Fun, sun, smiles, laughter, a little fishing and a hot dog while catching up and sharing the experience with another -- all at no cost to you except for spending a little time outdoors to have a positive experience. After helping with this event for the past four years I believe that I have more fun than the kids. I's all about that smile on the child's face that comes from their appreciation for the event that does it for me." (For more info visit www.gwinnettparks.com or call 770-417-2200.)
Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.