Seeing children without a father in their life absolutely breaks my heart. I wanted to do something to help those kids in my area. So I started an organization that takes underprivileged kids on all-day fishing trips out in the Gulf. And we’ve now touched the lives of 2,500 kids during the past 11 years.
It all started with my 8-year-old neighbor. I noticed he was an angry, frustrated kid. I didn’t know why until I found out he didn’t have a father in his life. So I asked his mom if I could take him fishing one Saturday. We went and he loved it. And we kept going a couple times each week. After a while, I noticed a huge change in him. He was happier, started treating his mom with respect and began doing better in school. I was amazed at the difference.
So it became my life’s calling to help other kids that may not have a father in their lives. I started reaching out to foster homes and taking out groups of 20 kids fishing on a Saturday.
We take them out on a boat for the day, feed them lunch, and just let them have a good time. We teach them how to fish, how to tie knots, and all about the different species. And since we are fishing, they learn patience, teamwork, how to relax, and not make hasty decisions. We mentor them and show them that someone cares.
Most importantly, we pray with them about their needs. We share Christ with them. We tell them they may not have a dad in their lives, but they do have a heavenly Father that cares about them.
People heard about what I was doing, and I got more and more requests to help some hurting kids: children with special needs, in the foster care system or kids that lived in Boys or Girls Homes. It became overwhelmingly expensive since I was paying for everything out of my own pocket. Each trip would cost about $1,000 since we chartered a 90’ boat and paid for every kid’s lunch. Plus, it takes about eight volunteers to help with the boys.
I am a tire salesman and some of my customers heard what I was doing and began chipping in to help me offset my expenses. But the opportunities to help more kids kept growing. My theme in all this is “just one more”. I am always striving to help just one more child. So I formed a 501(c)3 called Take A Kid Fishing, Inc. so we could take in donations. No one receives a dime for doing this. All the money goes to pay for the kids to be able to fish.
People ask why I have such a passion for this. I went through some hard times and was in a lot of trouble when I was young. One year, I was struck by lightning, shot with a 9 mm gun, and was bit by a rattlesnake. I figured God let me survive all that for a reason, so I started to change my life, and look for ways to help others.
It is almost impossible to describe the change that takes place with these kids when they’re out on the water. For almost everyone, it’s their first time on a boat in the ocean and it’s amazing to see the joy on their faces. In many cases, it’s probably the only time they get their worries off their minds.
We stay connected with as many kids as we can. For instance, last month we took out a group of kids from a children’s home. The next week, we went over to that home and served the kids fish tacos from the fish they caught.
I feel for these kids. They are not the ones that have made bad choices; it was their parents that made the choices that landed these kids in their group homes or within the foster care system.
I give God the glory for the impact we are able to have on these kids, and the chance to bring some light into their lives.