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Adaptive Fishing Event

By Wayne Goins
Angela Yingling
Published On: Oct 06 2012 08:02:33 PM CDT
SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. -

As the Saturday morning fog fades off South Holston lake, a group of college students and volunteers fill their tackle boxes for a day of fishing, but this is not an ordinary morning on the lake.

"We’ve got several people with different mobility issues or physical disabilities that we're just taking fishing," explains Chad McCracken with Victory Orthotics and Prosthetics.

Victory Orthotics and Prosthetics teamed up with River's Way and students from Radford University to spend the day helping the physically disabled enjoy a morning on the water.

McCracken tells us the fishing trip helps patients cope with a life where mobility can be a strain on day-to-day activities.

"It's more about getting out there a lot of times people who have physical challenges are afraid to get back into some of the things they were doing before they had a problem and this is a way to show them how they can get back out there," adds McCracken.

Student volunteers studying orthotics from Radford University brought along some helpful tools to make the trip for patients a little easier.

"We have adaptable equipment so it gives everyone a leisure that they may not have known they could do before," says Radford student Joanna Schiavoni.

We’ve learned this equipment helps people like Johnny Ray Chapman, who lost both of his legs to diabetes. Chapman tells us it's refreshing to do something fun and not worry about his own physical limitations.

"Well, you get tired of sitting at home feeling sorry for yourself. You cant walk, you get to go out and meet other people so it is really something to do," adds Chapman.

Everyone who helped with Saturday's event says they get a gratifying feeling seeing people enjoying their day.

"Honestly it is an amazing feeling not only to help them, but it helps us it helps me. It puts a perspective on life. There is so much more to life than your everyday routine," adds Schiavoni.

The volunteers add they realize it's more than just day fishing on the lake.

"The pure joy of enjoying nature and being out and on the water getting to hang out with friends," adds Brian Ulrich with River's Way.

Organizers tell us they hope to expand the program to include different activities and eventually grow to include younger people with disabilities