KANSAS CITY Mo -- Greg Lallky watched the wind ripple water under his fishing bobber and talked about past catches.
“I caught 11 fish a couple of years ago,” Lallky said on Friday (Sept. 10), as he fished from a wheelchair-accessible pier at Prairie Hollow Lake at the James A. Reed Conservation Area in Lee’s Summit.
The wind blew the bobber and bait too close to shore so Mark Griddine, a fisheries technician for the Missouri Department of Conservation MDC), reeled in the slack line, put a fresh earth worm on the hook and cast the bait back into the water. He was one of several department employees helping more than 50 people with disabilities fish, try out target archery or fire pellet rifles at paper targets.
The “Cast and Blast” event was hosted by the MDC and The Whole Person, an organization in Kansas City that helps people with disabilities live independent lives.
Lallky, 36, of Kansas City, has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. This was the third annual Cast and Blast and he’s attended them all.
“I like to get outdoors and do something outdoors,” he said. “This is the only time I get to go fishing.”
Yolanda Roach of Kansas City took aim from her wheelchair with a bow and arrow at a foam deer-shaped target. She shot her husband’s bow once and didn’t like it. But this bow was easier to pull, and she appreciated some firing-line coaching.
“That was fun,” Roach said, “and this was good exercise for me.”
The MDC provides accessible fishing piers or docks when possible at lakes on public conservation areas. Some locations also have accessible archery and firearms shooting ranges. For locations, go to http://mdc.mo.gov/accessibility-information. A publication called “Disabled-Accessible Outdoors” is also available at MDC offices and nature centers.
Cast and Blast is a cooperative program and Friday’s event was aided by volunteers from the Kansas City offices of Assurant Employee Benefits.
“People with disabilities don’t always have a place where they can go and shoot archery and air rifles and fish with friends,” said Karen Neal, event coordinator for The Whole Person. “This is also a chance to just get outside and have some fun.”
Kevin Pickett, 40, of Kansas City, North, was laughing about the excitement that followed when an angler reeled in a snapping turtle.
“I saw the snapper and it was a big one,” Pickett said. “I caught four bluegills this morning. I guess I got us some appetizers.”