Sometimes a fishing derby is more than just an event for socializing and sportsmanship. Which was certainly the case on Saturday, June 3, 2023, when some 20 youths and their families attended the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen’s Youth Outreach Fishing Event on Reynolds Pond in Cheshire, MA.
This year’s derby participants were from Hospice Care in the Berkshires’ (HCIB) Pediatric Palliative Care Program (PPCP) for children with life-limiting health conditions. According to HCIB Program Director June Green, the PPCP is about giving kids and their families a quality of life through providing nursing, social work, spiritual counseling, art, music and various therapies.
Simon Dembitzer, nurse for the PPCP, said the kids—along with their siblings, parents and grandparents—were “super excited” to attend and learn how to fish. Most had never been fishing before, making this a brand-new experience for them.
The Berkshire County League of Sportsmen was more than happy to provide comfort to the children, with a wide variety of conditions—from seizure disorders to cancer and a number of life-limiting illnesses in between. Through the aid of a significant grant from Whitetails Unlimited, The League was able to sponsor the event—providing the brook trout to guarantee every child would catch a fish, equipment, bait and food—while volunteers from local clubs and organizations offered helping hands.
Each child was given a fishing pole, equipment and provided the necessary bait as they set out to cast their rods. When a fish was caught, volunteers would clean the catch and store it in a plastic bag for the family to bring home to eat. And after a successful morning of fishing fun, everyone came together for a cookout spread to celebrate their accomplishments.
But pride is not the only thing these kids walked away with. At the end of the event, participants were able to depart with their newly acquired fishing gear.
We are honored that so many came out to help HospiceCare in The Berkshires make this dream a reality for the children and families of the Pediatric Palliative Care Program.