2014 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro
Lake Guntersville - Birmingham, AL, Feb 21 - 23, 2014

Smile

Don Barone

About the author

Don Barone

Don Barone

db has been in the reporting biz for over 30 years, won some Emmys and other awards, but is proudest of his four-decade marriage, his two kids and the fact he founded Tackle The Storm Foundation to help children.

“Smile…”

Dateline: Children’s of Alabama Hospital

With all do apologies to Birmingham’s, Children’s of Alabama Hospital, I would say I was sorry for breaking probably about 100 hospital rules, maybe more, but we made a child laugh, we made a child smile, and for maybe 10-15 minutes today, we made a child,

forget why he was there,

and maybe, just maybe, made him forget he has Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare bone cancer,

so to be honest, I’m not sorry at all,

and if I know you, you’ll forgive the rules,

and take the smiles.

“...and maybe tomorrow…”

Today B.A.S.S loaded a bus with a bunch of the anglers fishing in the Bassmaster Classic and took them a few blocks away to the local children’s hospital.

Took me too.

To be honest, I wasn’t about to go, but this morning I ran into my friend, Skeet Reese, in the boat yard, and as we were talking he looked at his watch and said, “Dude, we’ve got to go, got to get the bus to the kids hospital.”

I sort of hemmed and hawed a bit, I always get bummed, real bummed, seeing kids sick, I would, and I’m sure every parent would trade places with their child in a heartbeat, put me in the hospital bed, not either of my two kids.

I would become a whisper of myself if any thing happened to my kids.

So trips to children’s hospitals are not high up on my to-do list. 

And then there’s this, do the trips really mean anything to the kids, which in fact I might have actually said out loud because suddenly, right there in the boat yard, Skeet starts saying,  “db, I was over at Boyd Duckett’s place the other night and met this guy who told me he was a child cancer patient in St. Jude’s Hospital.”

I just look at Skeet, can’t see his eyes behind his new Skeet sunglasses, but can sure see the bright yellow sneakers he has on, and he continues talking, “I told the dude I was going to the children’s hospital, told him it was a bittersweet trip for me, being a parent, told him, ‘you know I think I get more out of it than the kids do…”

Then:  “…so the dude says to me, don’t sell your self short, I was one of those kids, I was one of those kids laying in a bed and someone famous would come by and say hello, sign some stuff for me, and you know what, I loved it, still to this day remember it, trust me, IT MATTERS.”

“…you'll see the sun…”

Fast-forward a couple hours and a couple of blocks.

The anglers are on the second level of a huge atrium in the hospital and suddenly from a walkway overlooking the first floor of the hospital, I hear this:

“YA!”

Actually more like YA!

And it is echoing through the hospital, so when I turn around to see who was crazy enough to yell that in a hospital I see Skeet all beat red and trying to hide behind Hank Cherry…and he’s heading my way.

“Ooops sorry I didn’t mean to do that.”

“Do what.”

“Yell.”

“Why…yell.”

“Because the kid hit the dot…”

The dot?

And then I see it, in the top floor of a 2nd or 3rd floor atrium I see a little hand come back behind his head and in his hand is a RED KIDS FISHING POLE, and suddenly his hand snaps forward as he CASTS A RUBBER LURE OUT INTO THE HOSPITAL ATRIUM.

Yep.

Seems Skeet and Hank Cherry were showing him how to cast, and had picked out a couple of targets on the floor of the atrium, and the child was getting pretty close to hitting the targets.

Yep.

And as I was about to be the meanie and suggest they might not want to do that, the child casting looked over at me, and just gave me the biggest smile, and my meanie, melted.

If you look close at this photo, look way down there by that green dot you’ll see a little spot on the floor…and that would be the NEXT cast that Chase made.

Chase’s Mom:  “He comes here every two weeks, he has 7 more months of cancer treatment.”

She then looked past me and smiled as her son launched another cast into the atrium, “He told me, mom, I’m so sick of this cancer.”

“…come shining through…”

Skeet:  “You know, I just wanted to create a fun environment, to get a smile on the face of one of these kids, it’s priceless.”

Between the shots.

Between the ouch.

Between the treatment.

If we can load a bus and bring a bunch of anglers to spend some time with some sick children,

between the surgeries,

between the meds that make them sick,

we can make them smile, smile for just a few moments,

then we will load the buses,

for what may be the truly most important catch of this week,

a child’s,

smile.

“…for you.”

Smile

Nat King Cole

db

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