"[I] caught 2 fish already, just caught one a few minutes ago and came out here, I think it was Monday, and I caught three in 10 minutes," said Fish-Abled participant, Doug Skrinski, "and so I think I'm out fishing everyone else here."
It's been nearly a decade since Skrinski has cast his line into the open water, and this fisherman hasn't lost his touch. But it's not reeling one in every time that matters most to Skrinski.
"I've been in a wheel chair for about 14 years now." Skrinski said, "I just think it's good for people that are in this situation that can't get out very often. I think it's healthy for them to get out and be able to not just get out into the environment, but be able to meet other people."
And that's exactly the point of a
"We want to take people and do things they thought they could never do again," said Eric Fishe, Co-Founder of Fish-Abled.
Fishe and his partner Virgil Toepfer, cast Fish-Abled into the public eye only a couple months ago, after the two took a blind friend out fishing for a day.
"It started out as a couple guys saying, 'hey, let's go fishing,' and we did and we're like, 'we need to keep doing this'," said Toepfer.
Now the two are recruiting folks
from Fishe's job at Rockford Para Transit to head out with them into the great
"When I drive, and I see these people in that situation, you know, it could be me one day and I just want to do what I can to make this take off," said Fishe.
Fishe and Toepfer agree they want to bring more attention to a community they say is often overlooked.
"I knew they existed," said
Toepfer, "but I didn't know them, and I wish I would've because I've been
missing out." Toepfer adds, "I could go fishing anytime, you know, and I can
get out of the house and do anything anytime and these guys need it, they
Fish-Abled is still a work in progress. The two founders say they would like to raise money for a van that's handicap accessible to accommodate more people on trips. And while fishing takes patience, these guys will be hard-pressed to just bob on the surface of a need that goes deep into the community.
"God put it on my heart and [I'm] just going to try to fulfill that... this will succeed,"said Fishe.
"I just hope that this is something the community realizes and tries to help out," Skrinski said.
If you want to support the cause, Toepfer
and Fishe are holding the first annual Fish- Abled foundation fundraiser on
Sunday, September 9th at the SMSF Club on