Hope Outdoors holds inaugural fishing trip for disabled in Biloxi

Hope Outdoors holds inaugural fishing trip for disabled in Biloxi
Organizers say some attendees had never caught a fish before. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Organizers say some attendees had never caught a fish before. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Rhett's grandmother says she loves that this event opens doors to outdoor opportunities. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Rhett's grandmother says she loves that this event opens doors to outdoor opportunities. (Photo source: WLOX News)

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - For some disabled children and adults, finding accommodations for everyday activities can be difficult. One non-profit aims to help people with special needs explore the great outdoors.

The Gulf Coast Chapter of Hope Outdoor Ministries kicked off its inaugural event this weekend, holding the first of two fishing trips in Biloxi.

Twelve-year-old Jason Sanders enjoyed a relaxing afternoon fishing with his dad Dana Sanders on Friday.

"Today the kids are gonna get to fish with the guides. I have some kids that have never caught a fish before, never been on the water," said Dana.

Dana is the Director of the Gulf Coast Chapter of Hope Outdoors. The nonprofit is a ministry for special needs individuals that offers free outdoor experiences such as hunting and fishing.

Parents say it can be difficult to find accommodations for everyday activities such as hunting and fishing.

Rhonda Granger of Leakesville said the event is about inclusion for her grandson Rhett.

"Hunting, fishing....we try to include him on anything of that aspect to show him that life is not impossible, even though you are bound at this moment," said Granger.

Special equipment and the help of several volunteers helped make the trip possible.

"Specialized equipment ranging from track wheel chairs to pontoon boats and baytoon boats are equipped to handle the wheelchairs. We have motorized reels that the kids can use. With the push of a button, they can catch their own fish," said Dana.

Beyond offering an exciting experience, Hope Outdoors also gives parents of disabled children a way to reach out to one another.

"We have a lot of single parents that are involved with Hope Outdoor ministries who have kids with disabilities. That happens a lot. They don't have the means. They don't have the opportunity to do this a lot," Dana explained.

Volunteers from all over the state came out as guides for the children.

Randall Jones is sharing his time with Hope Outdoors. As a wounded veteran, he said he has a an understanding for people with disabilities. He says this event gives him a new purpose.

"I was injured in 2011. Spent two years in Fort Benning learning how to walk after a back injury from being hit with an IED. I know about some of these issues they have with mobility," said Jones.

Hope Outdoors has 14 chapters from Alabama to Missouri. The Gulf Coast Chapter is the newest chapter. The organization is always looking for more children and adult participants, as well as volunteers.

Organizers said they thank the volunteers and DMR for helping making the fishing trip possible. Hope Outdoors runs solely on donations to provide free fishing and hunting trips to those with special needs. If you are interested in getting involved with nonprofit visit HopeOutdoors.org.

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