By DREW WINCHESTER, email@example.com
Wally Laumeyer uses fishing as a way to reach out to the kids in the community. He wants them to know how fun it is, how it can help them spend time with their families, and most importantly, he wants fishing to inspire them and keep them on a straight and narrow path.
Laumeyer and the Kiwanis Club of Cape Coral spent about $6,000 making that happen during their Free Kids Fishing Derby on Saturday, but Laumeyer said the expense is nothing compared to what society has to pay for those kids who choose the negative over the positive.
“When you consider what it costs to run a kid through the court system, $6,000 is pennies,” Laumeyer said.
Each of the 250 children who took part in the fishing derby went home with a brand new rod and reel. Some went home with trophies, and if their number was called during a raffle drawing, then some found themselves with a brand new bicycle to take home.
Originally from Minnesota, Laumeyer, 80, has fished for most of his life, and he saw the opportunity to share his love of fishing when he took over the fishing derby almost a quarter of a century ago.
Laumeyer said he found that some children, despite living in a waterfront community, had never even been fishing.
Hundreds of kids have come and gone to the fishing derby through the years, and some have even brought back their own children, according to Laumeyer.
He spends nearly six months setting up the event, and each year he relishes the chance to introduce fishing to a new crop of young anglers each year.
“If we can keep just one kid out of trouble, it’s money well spent,” Laumeyer added.
Ashlynn Ulm, 6, won the second place trophy for catching the second biggest fish of the day. She said she had a good time at the event, and one day hopes to catch a trout.
Although she didn’t win the bicycle, her dad Nick said it didn’t matter because she got the trophy instead.
“She’d rather have that trophy,” he said. “She even dreamed about it.”
Aaliyah Nina, 8, won the trophy for catching the smallest fish, a pin fish, according to her mom Dina Fanora.
Fanora said Aaliyha had a lot of fun at the derby, saying, “We were here last year and we’ll definitely be back next year.”