Lee’s Summit, Mo.—B.A.S.S. Nation anglers helped prove autistic children can have fun on the water during a day of fishing April 30 at Longview Lake.
The “Autism Mentorship Fishing, A Special Day for Special Kids” event drew 26 autistic children who got to spend the day fishing from 10 pontoon boats with adult mentors from the Backlashers Bass Club of the B.A.S.S. Nation, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and Longview Lake park rangers. Members of the Park Hill South High School B.A.S.S. Nation club and Blue Springs and Lee’s Summit High School fishing teams also served as mentors for the autistic anglers.
“Autism and water have never been a good mix as drowning is the number one cause of death in autism,” said Kenny Foster, event coordinator. “We brought together excellent mentors to teach the kids and their families that they can enjoy a normal activity that we as anglers take for granted. Teaching safety, such as wearing a lifejacket and not going near the water without a family member, can lead to fishing being a normal activity for a child with autism.”
Helping the autistic children learn how to fish were B.A.S.S. Nation volunteers Beau Cross and Fur Finley from the Backlashers club and the brother-and-sister pair of Sterling and Sierra Scott from Park Hill South High School.
“It was an honor to help these kids catch their first fish and see how happy it made them, “said Finley. “This is something I think they’ll remember for a very long time.”
“What a rewarding experience,” Cross said. “After seeing those kids catch their first fish ever, seeing their enthusiasm and the pure fun they were having, I can’t wait to do it again next year.”
The event was especially inspiring for the high school helpers. “Most of these kids were catching their first fish and watching the smiles on their faces was amazing,” said Sterling Scott.
“I love working with kids and seeing the smiles on their faces when they caught and held a fish was wonderful,” Sierra Scott said.