The work accident that crippled Blake Muhlenbruck also turned him into a lure maker and builder of dreams.
While working on an oil and gas industry experiment in August 2002, Muhlenbruck avoided certain death but suffered arm and back injuries when he pulled his arm free from several tons of falling pipes. "I lost 40 to 60 percent use of my right arm, and I don't have much feeling in my right leg from my back being blown apart," said the 34-year-old Centennial Bass Club member.
After suffering through four years of surgeries, rehabilitation and constant medication, Muhlenbruck decided to quit taking his prescription medicine. His doctor warned him that such a drastic change would kill him. "I was going through some really horrible drug withdrawals for eight months after that and was extremely suicidal," said Muhlenbruck. "The doctor was right: It almost killed me."
But the Windsor, Colo., angler prevailed because he turned his attention to helping others. "If I do one good thing that can change someone else's life and if they can go and change someone else's life because of what I have done, then that will continue on," said Muhlenbruck.
Before his accident, Muhlenbruck delved into charity work by developing Skates for Smiles, a program that put terminally ill children on the ice with National Hockey League players. Last year, Muhlenbruck decided to start another charitable program he calls Fishing the Future, Catching the Dream (F.F.C.D.).
The program focuses on fishing education in schools for kindergarten through 12th-grade students, teaching aquatic research, conservation and habitat restoration. Muhlenbruck plans on holding a music concert featuring country music singer Clay Walker and other artists, as well as a "Fish with a Pro Day," donating the proceeds from these events to multiple charitable causes, including a Windsor Lake handicapped dock project. The disabled angler also hopes to raise substantial funds to support the construction of handicap-accessible docks on bodies of water throughout the nation.
To raise funds for F.F.C.D., Muhlenbruck started designing lures for his newly created company, Naked Bait Co., making products such as slip floats and skirt materials.
"Because I have been given a second chance," said Muhlenbruck, "my dream in life now is to build other people's dreams."