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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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The “Wish to Fish Program” rolled out the red carpet at Lake Fork to welcome six-year-old, Victoria Gonzalez and her family from Kyle, Texas. Accompanying Victoria on her trip on June 25, 26, and 27 was her mother Judith, father Rene, 8-year-old brother Jacob, and her grandfather and grandmother, Chago and Manuela Salinas.
This program caters to children between the ages of four and sixteen that have been diagnosed with a life-threatening disease. The child and family are invited to Lake Fork to fish and spend quality time together enjoying the sport of fishing. During their time at our great reservoir lodging, meals, and all expenses are provided for by the program and participating sponsors. On each trip the family is taken out on a pontoon boat so they may all enjoy fishing together. Accompanying the pontoon boat on each trip is one of the programs 9-1-1-chase boats. In case of an emergency this boat would be able to transport an individual to one of the public boat ramps in a matter of moments. This is one boat in the program we all hope never has to be used.
No joy is more heart warming than a child’s smile and laugh of delight. All members and volunteers of the program that assisted with Victoria's trip are still counting their blessings.
As everything turned out Victoria was the best fisherperson of all in the party. She not only out-fished members of her family but also members of the Texas Trails Bassmasters assisting in the operations of the program. She quit counting at 20, so we do not have an accurate account of just how many fish she caught that day. Victoria also practiced catch and release but unlike most anglers she had a cute little, “Bye-bye little fishy” to endear them upon their release. At every new fishing spot the pontoon anchored at, Victoria was the first to catch a fish. The most important thing about fishing she learned probably from Bubba and that was how once the fish was back in the water the fish was bigger and weighed more in the telling of the story. Before the day of fishing was over Victoria could tell a fish story with a little coaxing from Bubba better than anyone in the party.
Words cannot express the joy that is experienced in bringing happiness to a family that has endured the hardships of having a child diagnosed with a life-threatening illness such as the Gonzalez family. When Victoria was 18-months old she was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma. This is a rare tumor of the eye, which develops in the cells of the retina. Most patients are under five years old. Sometimes only one eye is affected (unilateral-retinoblas-toma), but in about two fifths of patients both eyes have the disease (bilateral-retinoblastoma). The latter was the case with Victoria but through the grace of God and very attentive loving parents recognizing something was wrong with their child, she was treated in time to save one eye and keep the cancer from spreading to the brain cells. She is truly an angel and has touched all of our lives.
On behalf of the “Wish to Fish Program” founded by “The Fisherman’s Guide News” and “The Texas Trails Bassmasters”, I would like to thank our sponsors who without their help and assistance we could not have this program. Lake Fork RV & Auto & Marine Service, Bill and Marilyn Ballard for the use of their 24’ pontoon boat; Fishermen’s Inn, Ray Spencer for donating 2 cabins for their stay; Oak Ridge Resort for furnishing breakfast both days to the family and crew; Moser’s Restaurant, Kenny and Becky Moser for a terrific lunch donated for the family and crew; A.J.’s Fish House, Andy and Carolyn Johnson for furnishing dinner for the family and the crew and their wives; Wave Industries for furnishing T-shirts and baits for all members in the family; Gator’s Guide Service for the use of equipment and donating time and effort to show the party some excellent fishing locations; Fishermans One Stop, John and JoAnne Heimgartener for the fund-raiser banquet that got our program started; Jesse Parker Produce for the fruit baskets for the cabins; Brookshires in Mineola, Joey Shelton, Manager, for their donation; Mary Beth Theleen for her donation; Robert Smiddy for his donation and Bridgeview, Bruce and Mille Figura for their donation.
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