Disabilities Not A Barrier

MADISON, Ala. — David Giudice has fished his entire life, but he only began fishing competitively in 2008 after volunteering to serve as an observer during the Elite Series stop at Wheeler Lake.

 "I thought he was going to jump off the ship," said Alabama B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Treasurer Don Gowen, for whom Giudice was a last-minute recruit. "He was so excited."

 That experience turned Giudice's general love for fishing into an addiction to bass fishing.

 "He eats it. He breathes it. He sleeps it," mother Beverly Chambers said.

 This doesn't make Giudice, 39, different from anglers around the world: What does set him apart is the fact that he's deaf and bipolar, disabilities that would seem to be distinct disadvantages.

 Yet Giudice refuses to allow those conditions to control him.

 "Even though I have several disabilities, I don't see myself as disabled," Giudice said through e-mail. "I rather see myself as empowered through friendships and with the fish through their beauty."

 Giudice soon joined the Bassmasters of North Alabama and the state Federation Nation chapter, and now fishes competitively as much as possible.

 Gowen said Giudice has proved to be a real student of the sport.

 "He's a perfectionist about everything he does," Gowen said. "He reads Bassmaster, and I think he memorizes it. He's always wanting to fish new lakes, to fish with new people."

 The Federation Nation provides the perfect training ground for such a student of the sport.

 "Bass fishing is in my blood," Giudice said. "In my eyes, there's no greater sport. Being a fisherman was all I truly ever wanted to be."

 Chambers said it takes a lot of time to keep Giudice involved, but the effort is helping build her son's confidence and helping him work toward a life on his own.

 "My dream is for him to one day be self-sufficient," Chambers said. "I want him to succeed in life. I want him to know there's a better way in life. This is helping him see that."

 Mental health center sponsors Giudice

 HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — When David Giudice became involved in tournament fishing in 2008, the mental health facility at which he is a patient saw an opportunity.

 "The No. 1 issue that keeps people from getting the treatment they need is stigma," said Brian Davis, executive director of the Mental Health Center of Madison County.

 So the center teamed with Giudice, sponsoring his entry and providing money for lodging and transportation to an upcoming Bassmaster Southern Open.

 "This is a way to support somebody who says, 'Hey, I'm a person just like everybody else,'" Davis explained. "It helps educate the community and helps take away some of the misinformation and stigma that exist. He's a good ambassador for mental health."

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