People with disabilities get chance to fish

July 2010 News

For most of their lives, the world defines them with health terms: stroke victim, Down syndrome, quadriplegic.

For at least one weekend a year, they are united under a different banner: anglers.

"That's a dandy, Rich," said Bill Kohls of Fort Atkinson, admiring a 20-inch walleye brought in by Richard Doiss of Madison. "Now come on, tell us what it hit."

Doiss is all smiles - and all fisherman. He knows how to keep a secret.

The two men were among 100 anglers taking part in the Fishing Has No Boundaries outing on Lake Mendota.

Founded in Hayward in 1986, FHNB is a nonprofit organization that provides fishing outings for people with disabilities. The group has 23 chapters in 11 states.

The Madison chapter has run an event on Lake Mendota since 1995. The 2010 edition, held July 10-11, was headquartered at Governor Nelson State Park.

"We're saturated," said Bernie Wendricks of Madison, chapter chairman, referring to the 100-participant limit. "It's great to see."

A shady, lakefront corner of the state park is taken over for the event by an army, both figuratively and literally.

Some 300 volunteers are on hand to make things work, from food preparation to fishing guides. The list includes a contingent of Wisconsin Army National Guard members.

A huge tent covers dozens of tables and hundreds of folding chairs; an adjacent tent issues fishing tackle.

James Barber of Madison is the chapter's "director of equipment."

He displays a range of adaptive items available to participants. The "Strong Arm" provides an extra rod-holding appendage. Electric reels can be triggered with a finger lever or linked to a wheelchair's joystick.


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