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No joy is greater felt than that of a child’s laughter while enjoying catching a fish. If that child has been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, the child’s laughter increases the joy tenfold. This is the reason members of “The Wish to Fish Foundation” feel blessed with each wish we grant.
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Alissa, who turns four on February 12, 2006, suffers from and is undergoing treatment for Juvenile Myositis. This is a rare autoimmune disease that affects approximately 5,000 children in the United States. JM attacks children of all ages, causing a variety of debilitating symptoms including: muscle weakness and pain, severe fatigue, rashes, swallowing and digestive difficulties, lung and heart problems, vasculitic ulcers, and calcinosis. Some children may experience a remission, while others will battle JM their entire life, and complications from this disease can prove fatal. Medication can help to alleviate the symptoms of JM, but there is no known cure.
Alissa has to be treated for JM every six weeks for a five or six day period. Each day the medicine for this treatment has to be injected intravenously which might take from four to six hours each day. “Though sedated for this treatment, she is often calmed and helped through the episode by talking about fishing,” her Paw Paw, (Mark Carpenter) informed me. All of us could take a lesson from this brave little girl.
Alissa’s love for fishing is stronger than anyone’s I have ever witnessed. When her trip was finally planned and the date set, each day she would ask her mother and grandparents if this was the day she fishes Lake Fork on a boat. This little angling angel had never been out fishing on a boat and her excitement was overwhelming.
At 7 A.M. Saturday morning the crew of “The Wish to Fish Foundation”, which included myself, Don Hampton, CEO/ Founder; Bill Morgan, Youth Director; Directors: Sue Hampton, Albert Jordan, Sam Hooten, Kenneth (Gator) Jones accompanied by friend Lisa, and LaRoyce McDaniel met the family at Moser’s Restaurant, (Foundation Sponsor) for breakfast before beginning a vigorous day of fishing. Our goal for this day was to have Alissa not only catch a lot of fish while giving her and her family a great day on Lake Fork, but we were also hoping to set new lake body records in the Junior Division by Alissa.
To begin the trip she was presented a gift bag from Wave Industries, (Foundation Sponsor). The gifts included shirts, cap, the cutest teddy bear you’ve ever seen, and quite a few packages of Wave Worm products. You would think that a three year old girl would first and be mostly impressed with the teddy bear, but you don’t know Alissa. Her favorite in the gift package were the baits, she would hold them up, caress and hug them and tell us how big of a fish she was going to catch on them.
Although the weather man had predicted severe storms and 60% chance of rain on Saturday, no one in the program had the heart to even suggest putting the trip off. There were many answered prayers that day and as usual the weather man was wrong again. Not only did the weather hold off for the trip, but Alissa not only caught a lot of fish on her Barbie rod, which I might say out fished every other rod on the pontoon, but she was successful in setting new Lake Fork lake body records.
Alissa's 2005 Fishing Records
Alissa now holds the Junior Division lake body record for channel catfish in unrestricted category measuring 21.75” in length and weighing 2.84-pounds; catfish caught on rod n’ reel, measuring 10.25” in length and weighing .33-pounds; bluegill, rod n’ reel, measuring 7” in length and weighing .25-pounds; and last but not least, an Outstanding Angler Award for a 10” yellow bass. She also achieved one new state record in the Junior Division for a Pumpkinseed Bream measuring 6” in length and weighing .18-pounds.
Click to view Texas Parks & Wildlife current records
For lunch the crew and family returned for lunch at Moser’s Restaurant where we were met by Brian Hughes of Texas Fishing and Outdoors Show and his wife, Shanna. Brian who had first been contacted by Mark Carpenter and informed of Alissa’s condition was responsible for putting them in contact with “The Wish to Fish Foundation”. Brian and his wife presented her with a tote bag of fishing lures and goodies, which also included some children’s wildlife and fishing coloring books. Alissa couldn’t wait to start coloring the fish at lunch but this had to be done in ink for the lack of crayons, but when lunch was over she couldn’t wait to get back on the lake and catch some more fish.
The afternoon was also filled with many fish catching moments. Alissa caught everything from crappie, catfish, bream and bar fish. The afternoon on the lake was concluded with Alissa wanting to go fast in a bass boat. With each “Wish to Fish” trip, the child and family are taken out on a pontoon boat to fish. This boat is also accompanied by two 9-1-1 chase boats in case of emergencies. Alissa and mother Mindy got their ride in my Legend LE-21 powered by a Mercury 225 Opti-Max. Only once during the time of racing up and down the boat lane did Alissa ask to slow down, the rest of the time she kept insisting on going faster. The time she asked me to slow down was so I could turn around and go fast past her Nana and Paw Paw on the pontoon boat again. I had to do this three times for her. I must admit, she is one great little trooper, a terrific fisher, and she captured all of our hearts that had the pleasure of taking her and her family fishing.
The trip was concluded by a social and dinner at A.J.’s Fish House, (Foundation Sponsor), that evening. All of the directors, their wives or girlfriends met and dined with the family on all you can eat catfish and shrimp. What better way to end a perfect day.For scheduling or more information contact: