Wheelin#8217; Sportsmen event to get rolling April 7 at Vesuvius

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

No matter what their abilities, Gloria Chrismer thinks that everyone deserves to have a place of their own.

The Ironton district ranger of the Wayne National Forest and the National Wild Turkey Federation are spreading the message that a sportsman’s (or woman’s) disability doesn’t have to have to stop their appreciation of the outdoors.

The third annual Wheelin’ Sportsmen Fishing Day is slated for April 7, when some of Ohio’s 5,300 physically challenged outdoors persons will take to the Lake Vesuvius boardwalk to angle for a big catch.

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They’ll be helped in their conquest by a few thousand trout that will be introduced into the lake around 11 a.m. just for the event.

People with disabilities are encouraged to attend the special event, but Chrismer wants to spread the message that the forest is accessible to them all through the year.

“It gives the picture to of how our facilities, our accessible facilities out at Lake Vesuvius actually improve the lives of people with disabilities … well, people of all abilities, not just disabilities, but all abilities,” Chrismer said.

In recent years, the Wayne National Forest has opened a 1,400-foot, handicapped-accessible boardwalk, the site of the event. It’s just one of many spots at the park that Chrismer hopes visitors will come to think of as their own.

“We have all these acres of the Wayne National Forest in the county, and people can come out and find their special place, whether it’s on the boardwalk, or on the trail, whether it’s talking to a tree, or talking to the chipmunks out there running around.”

Everyone needs one of these special spots where they can commune with nature, Chrismer said, before admitting her own.

“It’s going on a walk around Lake Vesuvius and just rubbing your hand across that soft, green moss that grows back there on the rocks, it feels like velvet” Chrismer said before breaking into a laugh. “That’s something I in particular like to do. If you haven’t tried it, you should.

“It means a lot. We want people to have a sense of place, and we’d like that place to be on the Wayne National Forest.”

Chrismer admitted that although she thought the event was a help to people with disabilities, the volunteers for Wheelin’ Sportsman Fishing Day got just as much out of it.

“Everybody who partners on this event, all of us out there helping I think we take a lot home, too,” Chrismer said. “It makes us feel good to see people that don’t ordinarily get to get out have a day where they can do what other people do.”

The fishing begins at 10:30 a.m. on April 7, and lasts until 2 p.m. More information is available by calling Kari Kirshcbaum or Eddie Park at the Wayne National Forest’s Ironton Ranger District at (740) 534-6500.