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Fishin' Frenzy participants hooked

May 16, 2004|By WANDA T. WILLIAMS

Children and adults with disabilities cast their lines for a variety of fish from a pond stocked with fresh fish at Saturday's Fishin' Frenzy at Star Community.

Regardless of age, Saturday's event was a rare opportunity for people with disabilities to spend the day catching fish, including bass, rainbow trout and sunfish.

"It gives handicapped people a chance to have a fun day doing an American tradition of fishing," Greg Munch said.

Munch, 35, who struggled to hold his fishing pole, managed to reel in fish from a pond at Star Community on Broadfording Church Road in Hagerstown.

"It was hit by a truck on my bike, but with God's help, friends, family and a lot of perseverance I'm here today," he said, just before reeling in another catch, which drew applause from others on hand.

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Since an accident in 1977, Munch has had difficulty standing, has limited use of his hands and arms and his speech is slurred.

"This is my first time fishing here, and I've fished about two other times," he said.

Munch joined 62 other adults and children 12 and under with disabilities at Star Community, formerly known as the Anita Lynne Home. The 140-acre residential community serves the developmentally disabled. This year's Fishin' Frenzy also was sponsored by MIHI (Many Individuals Helping Individuals), the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Maryland Bass Federation.

Those who couldn't fish from the bank surrounding the pond enjoyed the ease of a wheelchair-accessible fishing deck.

Organizers said Saturday's weather was great for fishing and provided a perfect opportunity for everyone involved to take a mental break and enjoy the outdoors.

"You can forget about everything," said Jim Kline of the Maryland Bass Federation. "Just to see the smile on the kids' faces when they catch a fish. We have grandparents and parents here."

Joshua Woolard, 15, of Hagerstown was able to fish for the second time, according to his mother, Linda Woolard, who said she and her son had a great time.

"We'll take it home and put it in the pan for dinner tonight," she said, adding she is looking forward to next year's Fishin' Frenzy.

Dennis McMillen, 32, caught fish from his wheelchair.

"This is my second time fishing, I got four so far," McMillen said.

Hagerstown City Councilman N. Linn Hendershot, a member of MIHI, said the event was a success.

"This is our first year at Star Community, and we've got a second Fishin' Frenzy scheduled for Saturday, June 19 at Panghorn Park," Hendershot said.

That event will be open to children 12 and under and seniors 65 and older. For additional information, contact MIHI at 301-745-6444.

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