No limit on what these fishermen can do
September 14, 2012 4:34PM
Antioch, 09/10/11-- Juan Cuba (left) hauls in a turtle he inadvertently caught while fishing on Lake Marie as part of The Fishing Has No Boundaries program Saturday afternoon. | Eric Davis ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 16, 2012 6:05AM
There are no boundaries for those who push the limits.
That was demonstrated again last weekend at the Northern Illinois Chapter of Fishing Has No Boundaries, an organization that was rejuvenated by Antioch residents Tom and Sheila Dvorak two years ago.
And they have set their sights on making the event bigger and better at Charles Haling & Sons Resort and Marina on Grass Lake on the Chain O’ Lakes.
Some history here.
In 1986, a Hayward, Wis., (the Muskie capital of the world) fishing guide named Bobby Cammack founded Fishing Has No Boundaries, Inc. He had broken his leg and with the cast, he was no longer able to fish and enjoy the beautiful area lakes. That gave him an idea that would spread to people with mental and/or physical disabilities.
The first event was held in 1988 on the Chippewa Flowage in Hayward for all persons with disabilities regardless of age, race, gender, and especially severity of disability. They gathered 75 people from seven different states.
By 2002, there were more than 8,000 participants at various events and double that number in volunteers.
In 2007, there were 23 events in 11 different states. At one point, there was a Chicagoland Fishing Has No Boundaries, but it sort of fell by the wayside until the Dvoraks decided to step in.
His event is officially a tournament, with prizes given out for big fish in each species and the most fish caught.
This year, Alex Callahan, 17, of Lake Villa who uses a wheelchair and a service dog named Uno, came out to his second event with Tom Schran, his uncle, who was a career Navy man.
Alex’s mother, Lisa, said she heard about the tournament last year through the school nurse at Lakes High, where Alex goes to school. He told the nurse fishing stories because his family and stepfather, Russ, are all anglers.
“Now he participates every year,” she said, and his uncle is looking for tournaments in between his home in Wisconsin near the Minnesota border and Lake Villa that they can also go to in the years to come.
“It’s kind of cool,” she said, “He’s talking about next year already. I’ll hear about this every day until next year,” she said with a laugh.
Alex won for the most fish caught with 17 this year, and last year he had one of the biggest fish.
Tom Dvorak said this year, they pulled in 418 total fish and about 40 people from the Kiley Center in Waukegan, Miscordia, Trinity Services and individuals like Alex all got to fish from a flotilla of volunteer boats and pontoons and even a small barge for wheelchair patients donated by the Fox Waterway Agency.
Meals were provided, along with gift bags for all the participants.
“If you could just see the look on their faces. They are getting sunshine and are on the water, which isn’t part of their routine. The noise, the clapping people, the different smells. I cry every time the boats go out,” said Callahan.
Dvorak said they had about 16 volunteer boats and they also caught some big fish like a 22-inch walleye, 15-inch small mouth bass, 8-inch blue gill and perch, and a 7-inch crappie. “We also had guides from the Professional Walleye Tour and they were great,” said Dvorak.
He said he got a lot of local support from the Antioch Lions Club and Rotary, Wal-Mart, C.J. Smith Resort, Raymond Chevrolet and Illinois State Representative Joann Osmond from Antioch.
But they could always use more help.
If you would like help the cause, you can send a donation to Tom Dvorak, PO Box 259, Antioch, 60002 or call at (847) 395-0722 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s all thank Tom and Sheila for seeing no boundaries and pushing the limit.