HURRICANE – An event conceived in the mind of a professional fisherman from St. George, supported by scores of volunteers and local National Guardsmen, treated 60 disabled people, ages 7 to 73, to a grand and hot day of fishing, lakeside lunch and awards at Sand Hollow State Park today.
In its seventh year, Fish-N-Fun founder and coordinator Steve Miller, a professional fisherman by livelihood, has accumulated more than 38 sponsors, the support of both professional and local fishermen and boat owners, and the friendship of everyone involved in the event.
“They bring in professional fishermen from all over the country, they bring their big fancy boats and load them in the water and we coordinate with local disabled people,” Army National Guard Sgt. Joseph Bowcutt said before the event began. “We pair ’em up with a pro fisherman (or with a weekend warrior, Miller said) take ’em out on the lake, help ’em catch some fish, bring ’em back to shore, grill the fish and feed ’em.”
All of the participants are handicapped or disabled in some way, Miller said, Down syndrome, wheelchair users and the like. They are selected from residential living facilities for the disabled, specifically Danville Services in St. George and TURN Community Services in Cedar City.
“They get hot, they get tired,” Miller said. “They’ll go out and fish for an hour to a couple hours, whenever they’re ready to stop, we get them off the water.”
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Videocast by Chris Caldwell, St. George News
In total including volunteers, parents, and others accompanying the participants, Miller said they fed about 200 people today – and gave out awards.
“It was just an idea,” Miller said of how Fish-N-Fun began. With his son’s help, he runs the main part of the event and involves volunteers to do everything from pairing up kids with fishermen to loading the boats, parking trucks and trailers and making lunch. And donations; everything is donated from boats, gas, food and all that goes into it. Miller himself donates all the rods, reels and bait, he said.
“I have a soft spot in my heart for the handicapped and disabled people,” Miller said. “Anything we can do to give back, we do.”
Miller has been fishing professionally for a lot of years, he said, traveling across country from Wisconsin to California fishing for a living. He said he wanted to give these people an opportunity to do what he does.
The event is held at Sand Hollow Reservoir in Sand Hollow State Park, which Miller said is an amazing fishery. He said they always catch fish.
“They stocked it once,” he said, “and that’s it. They might put some blue gill in every now and then. … There’re just tons of fish in there.”
Fish-N-Fun has doubled in capacity since it began and Miller expects it to continue to grow. There is always a need for more support. Those interested in getting involved in next year’s Fish-N-Fun may contact him directly as provided below.
St. George News Reporter Chris Caldwell contributed to this story.
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Steve Miller: 435-590-1518
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