About ten years ago I joined a local fishing club. Nothing too crazy - just a bunch of people who love to fish. In particular, we fish bass tournaments. Nobody is going to get rich winning one of our tournaments, it’s more about friendships, sportsmanship, and fun. During one of our meetings, the topic of the P.V.A. tournament on Rend Lake was discussed. The Paralyzed Veterans of America to be more specific.
As someone who really respects the sacrifices our veterans have made, I thought participating was a great way to give a little back. This tournament is different than a lot of others. There are two days of fishing. Each boat captain is paired with a disabled angler. Day one, the disabled angler fishes. Day two, you fish as a team.
After nine years of fishing this tournament, I can still name every one of my partners, and remember each year like it was yesterday. Some could barely walk, some were completely paralyzed. Some were old, some were young. Bottom line is they all were there to fish.
The P.V.A. bass tour has been around for quite a few years now. That experience shows before, during, and after the tournament. Volunteers help load/unload anglers from boats, park vehicles, setup/cleanup, etc… When dealing with multiple people, with different needs, it can get complicated. However, I’ve never seen a situation where they were not able to accommodate everyone.
I’ve learned that the label “disabled” can be misleading. I fish a lot, and some of the guys I’ve fished with who are “disabled” have out fished me by quite a lot. I’ve learned that being paralyzed, sick, or injured doesn’t make the person. It just happens to be part of the person. I’ve fished with paralyzed doctors, physical therapists, retired military, electrical engineers, and even a fishing guide. These people didn’t want my sympathy because of their condition. All they wanted was to fish - of course most of them want to win also.
Fishing the P.V.A. is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in my lifetime. I’ve met friends from around the country. I come from a family that has a long list of veterans, but I am not. I can’t begin to say how much I appreciate the sacrifices these men and women have made. For me, it is a little way I can give back. I encourage everyone to check out the Paralyzed Veterans of America. Their adaptive sports programs, their library. (Look at the pictures and see if you can find my smiling face after we won.)
With Making Care Easier, every day we are hoping to make lives just a bit easier and more enjoyable. I can only hope that we are as successful as the P.V.A. www.makingcareeasier.com