Sharing the Joy of Fishing - South Dade News Leader: Sports

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Sharing the Joy of Fishing

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Posted: Friday, December 21, 2018 9:58 am

It started after a life threatening illness almost took the life of Dr. Sam Porco. On what could have been his death bed, the good dentist promised God that he would spend every free moment of the rest of his life teaching underprivileged youth about enjoying the beauty of nature through fishing.

This led Dr. Sam and five friends to the idea of starting the Youth Fishing Foundation Inc., some 21 years ago with the motto of, “Have you ever seen a kid with a fishing pole in back of a police car?”

Though their main focus has been Dade County, the foundation has held fishing clinics as far as New Smyrna Beach and Panama City, Florida. One year, there was even a jaunt to Biloxi, Mississippi. Some years they topped 200 children, reaching a total of thousands over the years. 

Last year, due to health issues and the loss of his dear wife Patricia of 57 years, the Youth Fishing Foundation was terminated but not until Dr. Sam had baited one more hook. Good friend and fellow Rotarian Steve Degrave was the perfect catch as he spearheaded the Rotary Club of Homestead to take on the project under the name of “Kids Fishing Foundation.”

On Saturday, December 15th, armed with up to 230 rods and reels, Steve, with the help of the Rotary Club of Homestead, plus friends and other club members, greeted boys and girls from ages 4 to 14. Assistance from other generous donors included Farm Share with food, drinks, hot dog buns plus smacks. Hot dogs paid for by the American Legion of Homestead. Dairy Queen supplying ice cream bars, and bait plus tackle that was donated by an anonymous Rotary member. A special thanks to Miami-Dade Parks and Recreation who provided use of the Pavilion and Fishing areas.

The day began with cool weather as sunrise pierced the mosquito-less, morning sky. Helpers arrived early to be prepared for the 9 o’clock starting time. Registration was the first chore at hand. Once that was under control, safety instructions were given. Several clinics followed: 1) knot tying was followed by attaching a weight with a small rubber fish for a lesson in… 2) casting towards a target on land. 3) with mastery of both, each child was given a bag of extra hooks and weights plus a sack of bait. 4) safety instructions were given again and the kids were off to the waters edge with chaperones.

Though the fish were limited, each of the over 200 kids got to go home with a rod & reel, a full belly and a gift from Santa played by yours truly. In all, this endeavor was an overwhelming success.

For the record, the first catch of the day was by the son of one of the Rotarians. His catch was followed by a young lady named Iriely. Both were instructed by Santa, “Never tell a fib with the exception of a good fishing story.”

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