William Dunn of Lakeland, Florida, couldn’t help but observe that his next-door neighbor, who was only eight years old, was constantly running in and out of his own home, which was located across the street.
Dunn felt worried since the youngster did it frequently enough to warrant his attention.
He said, “I wondered what was going on in his life, so one day I decided to question him.” “I wondered what was going on in his life, so I asked him.”
After he informed me that he did not have a father, I became aware that there may be anything that I could do to help him.
Dunn, now 57 years old, spent his childhood fishing with his father, who had a lobster company in the Florida Keys. Dunn helped his father with the business at one point. He said that fishing had always provided him with a sense of calm and had taught him to be patient.
“You can forget about your worries and simply enjoy the moment while you’re out on the lake,” he added. “It’s a great feeling.”
Dunn, a father of three, went out to the mother of his little neighbor and inquired as to whether or not he might take the youngster fishing.
One Saturday afternoon spent on the lake quickly led to another, and before long, Dunn found himself instructing other schoolchildren as well as the friends of the boys on how to properly handle a fishing pole, rig a line, and reel in a catch.
It’s been 15 years since then.
Since that time, Dunn has often led groups of children on fishing outings throughout the weekend. The majority of them did not have any male role models in their lives and had never gone fishing before. Some of them were orphans who had spent their formative years bouncing about from foster family to foster home.
According to Dunn, “They’d gone through a lot, they’d seen a lot, and their lives were terrible.” [Citation needed] “However, once they got out on the water and started fishing, all of it disappeared.”
Dunn said that these children would have a good time on the boat, where they would meet new friends and laugh a lot. That was the moment when he realized he was onto something good.
In the beginning, Dunn used a sizeable portion of his earnings from his work selling tires to pay for the weekly fishing trips that he went on charter boats. The following year, in 2018, he established the charitable organization known as Take a Kid Fishing Inc. in Lakeland, a city that is home to a large number of lakes.
Over the course of the last three and a half years, Dunn and a few volunteers have given more than 2,500 youngsters, the most of whom do not have dads in their lives, the opportunity to experience the joy of spending calm time on the lake and catching a fish.
Dunn, also known as “Big Will,” said that he considered himself very fortunate to have a father who could take him fishing when he was a child growing up in Miami.
“I’m the youngest of six and I’ve always had a terrific connection with my dad,” he recounted, adding that he was the youngest of the group.
Even though dad has moved to Tennessee, I will never forget the life lessons he gave to me. He informed me that the experiences you build when fishing are more important than the fish you bring in. He was right.
He went on to say, “That’s what I aim to pass down to every youngster I introduce to fishing,” and I quote: “That’s what I hope to pass along.”
Dunn’s commitment to serving as a mentor to these up-and-coming fishers has garnered him acclaim from members of his community.
“Kids can see that he’s sincere,” said Tom Pichette, 59, a former youth pastor who has accompanied him on numerous fishing excursions as a volunteer. Pichette has gone fishing with him on a number of occasions.
They join onboard with some challenging tales, having been dealt some difficult cards in life. But Will never changes his mind about accepting people for who they are.
The loss of their father, Richard Pryor, who passed away in a vehicle accident in January of 2020, was difficult for all of her children, according to their mother, Terry Pryor, who is 32 years old and a mother of three.
She was particularly concerned about his son Jayden, who was ten years old at the time. He had a strong bond with his father and had the strong sense that he needed to take over as the head of the household right away.
According to Pryor, the individual “was trying to be strong for everyone and did not exhibit his grief.” Then I heard about the Take a Kid Fishing program, and all of a sudden I knew exactly what to do to assist him.
Because he spends his weekends fishing with Dunn, Jayden, who is now 12 years old, has developed a serious passion for the sport.
“By bringing me fishing, Will has helped me develop into a better person,” he stated. “I hope that when I say ‘Thank you,’ he understands that I really mean it.”
Each child who participates in the program is given their very own fishing pole and tackle box. But more than that, the highlight of the trip is the way in which they form connections with one another and the healing that takes place while they are out on the water.
“There’s nothing like feeling that first pull on the line and watching a youngster light up with a grin,” Dunn said. “There’s nothing like feeling that first tug on the line.” “I consider myself really fortunate to be able to see it every weekend.”
These children are also very fortunate to have a positive adult role model in their lives. Many thanks to you, Will Dunn, for making such a positive impact on the lives of these kids, one fishing trip at a time.