Children with mental and physical disabilities fished in rodeo

WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - Some physically and mentally challenged children in Hancock County got a rare opportunity to wet a hook in Waveland this weekend.

The Waveland Civic Association hosted its first fishing rodeo for youngsters with disabilities.

For some of the participants it was an experience they won't soon forget.

The Waveland Municipal Pier closed for half a day to host some fishermen and fisherwomen with special needs.

"This is my first time fishing." said Dominic Pitts.

Pitts was extremely excited about the opportunity.

"It's fun! I'm hoping to catch some fish today," Pitts said.

His father, Paul Pitts said his son has cerebal palsy and he's epileptic. He was born eight weeks early with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck.

When asked if he had caught any fish yet? Dominic responded, "No sir, not yet, I'm working on that now."

His father is just grateful his son has been given the chance to give it a shot.

"Because with so many special needs it's just access they just can't get there. He can't go out in the sand that way because the wheel chair gets bogged down and he can't move so it has to be on a hard surface like this," Paul said.

The Waveland Civic Association hosted the special needs Fishing Rodeo and their president is glad to do it.

"I have five grandchildren and they're good and healthy but the special needs children need something to," said Civic Association Vice President, James LaGasse.

Waveland Mayor David Garcia, agreed, "quite often they're the forgotten ones they're several fishing rodeos that go on in the community, but none for them."

The idea of a fishing rodeo for disabled children was the brain child of Civic Association member Alfred Tigger Harris.

"Our whole goal is to get the kids out here. Teach them how to fish and show them how to fish. Fishing is probably the best sport in the world as far as I'm concerned," said Harris.

"This is one that we all can be proud of we see the experience and the expression on their faces we just can't wait for some of them to start catching some fish to see the real expression," Mayor Garcia, and Civic Association Member said.

"You got it, you got it. Pull it up," said one excited participants mother. She watched as her daughter pulled up a small croaker.

Echo Arthur, landed the biggest fish, a 13-inch white trout and he has big plans for it.

"Cut it and eat it," said participant Echo Arthur.

The hope is they will enjoy their fishing experience and make it a lifelong hobby.

"That's why we're giving them fishing poles, we're giving them the bait buckets we gave them the life preservers t-shirts we gave them hooks, corks sinkers and hopefully they'll come out here after today and do some fishing this Summer." said Harris.

Waveland Civic Association members said out of all of the events and causes they work for and put on in the community the special needs rodeo has been the most rewarding. And the Organizers plans to make it an annual event.

After the fishing rodeo ended, the participants were treated to a cook-out.

Civic Association members said the support it received from the community to help put the event on was overwhelming.

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