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Small Pond, Big Smiles

September 1, 2004, 9:55 PM by Cathy McLeer

You bait your hook, drop a line and wait. If you're lucky the fish will bite. Most anglers see fishing as a challenging to land the big one, or a relaxing way to pass the time. But, at one Keloland fishing hole it's more meaningful. It's a small pond that brings big smiles.

There's nothing quite so relaxing as quiet a fishing hole on a sunny summer day. But "my fishing Pond Inc." is no ordinary pond. It's a therapeutic fishing pond for brain injury survivors and people with special needs.

John Alvarez says, "When they come out here they just relax, they don't even have to catch a fish."

Alvarez built the non-profit catch and release fishing pond 2001 with the help of his son. He wanted to give those facing physical and mental disabilities a meaningful way to overcome their challenges.

"They come out and do away with what they're working with," says Alvarez. He says the struggles of therapy and rehab melt away in the ripples of the water. "Everything just turns alive. That's what I get out of it is to see them enjoy."

Volunteer and friend Joe Sisco says being a part of My fishing pond inc is like nothing he's ever experienced before. "I get a great deal of pleasure out of watching kids who don't have a lot going for them right not get a lot of satisfactions and happiness, that makes all the hard work, and it is hard work worth while."

Between outings, Sisco and Alvarez spend hours prepping the poles and the pond to give visitors an experience they'll never forget. Sisco says, "The experts say it's therapeutic and I hope so."

dropping a line requires coordination, cooperation, problem solving and decision making, skills contributing to the long road to recovery. And no one knows that better than Alvarez.

"I lost 5 days. I didn't know what happened. They tell me I ran a stop sign. I got hit," he says. His life as he knew it came to a screeching halt in 1994. When he couldn't continue working as a hard rock miner in Arizona, his family moved to Bridgewater. His son helped him re-learn his ABC's, took him fishing, and changed his life again.

"If you don't have nothing in this world to do why be here," says Alvarez. My Fishing Pond Inc. is still helping Alvarez recover. Unable to work, he says it gives him an outlet to continue his own therapy. More than that, it gives him a purpose. "My accident I lived through it for a reason, and maybe this is it."

Alvarez says My Fishing Pond Inc. wouldn't survive without help from all his volunteers.

He depends on donations and free will offerings, and some grants to keep the pond going.

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