UNION — The first of two annual fishing events held this week at Foster Park Lake was a morning filled with fun for some very special children.
On Thursday morning, the Piedmont Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) and Sumter National Forest hosted its “Wheelin’ Sportsmen” event for the fifth straight year. The event was open to all special needs children ages 18 and under.
More than 100 children participated Thursday with over 30 volunteers.
“This event couldn’t have been any better,” said Steve Cobb, who is with both the U.S. Forest Service and the NWTF. “It was just excellent. I look forward to next year.”
U.S. Forest Service District Ranger Beth LeMaster echoed Cobb’s sentiments.
“The Wheelin’ Sportsmen events for kids are the highlight of our year,” LeMaster said. “It’s a little bit of work, but a whole lot of fun. Getting the kids outdoors is worth every bit of it.”
LeMaster said she was truly thankful for the schools that allowed students to participate, and those included schools from Union County and Chester County, as well as the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind.
“Fishing is a great equalizer,” LeMaster said. “There are no abilities or disabilities — everybody just has fun!”
Thursday’s event stuck to catch-and-release rules, so that all 2,400 pounds of catfish put into the lake last week will be available for catching during Saturday’s J.A.K.E.S. Public Safety/Fun Day. The J.A.K.E.S. event will run from 8:30 a.m.-noon for children. After the event ends at noon, adults will be allowed to fish as well.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service by calling (864) 427-9858.
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at email@example.com.