WAYNE LAKES – Hooked On Fishing Not On Drugs wrapped up the 10th year for the program Wednesday, July 23 at Wayne Lakes with a traditional pizza party.
According to co-founders Don Drew and John Winger, an average of approximately 45 kids come out to fish on Wednesdays beginning in June and running for eight weeks. Each week all the kids that register are given a raffle ticket which they are then eligible for prizes at the end of the morning. Each child that participates is required to know how to tie a knot in their fishing line, cast and bait their hooks before fishing on their own. A parent is also required to accompany the kids as well.
The idea of the program is to teach the kids how to fish and give lessons on life and why it is important to say no to drugs.
Drew, who was a D.A.R.E. program officer for 12 years before retiring from the Darke County Sheriff’s Office, said that each year they have deputies and rescue personnel come out and talk with the kids. He said that this year was the first time a recovering addict actually came out and give his story about how drugs landed him in prison and messed up his life.
“You could really see what he said got the attention of the some of the kids listening,” Drew told The Early Bird.
The program sees a lot of support locally. Both Judge Hein and Monnin made donations, as well as the Darke County Prosecuting Attorney Kelly Ormsby. Several local churches, clubs and businesses also gave to help make the program a success.
“We really do what we can to encourage the kids to learn to fish,” Winger said. “We teach them safety and even how to fillet and fry the fish.”
“I am just amazed at the turnout,” stated Darke County Sheriff Deputy Ron Beisner. “You can just see the excitement on the kids faces with the interaction with the veteran fisherman. It is like fishing with grandpa.”
In addition to volunteers Bob Farmer, Doug Bickley and Wayne Lakes resident Gabe Petho, the program received donations from Little Debbie, Mikesells, Jelly Belly and several local businesses to help feed and handout snacks to the kids.