Wheelin’ Sportsman Thursday

Published 10:33 am Thursday, April 9, 2015

PEDRO — Organizing the four hours along the boardwalk at Lake Vesuvius that is the Wheelin’ Sportsman means 100 times more hours in planning and preparation for the multiple partners who put the annual event on.

On Thursday, April 16, hundreds will cast their fishing lines into the lake to haul in rainbow trout for the 14th year for the event for those in nursing homes or who are disabled.

“These people look forward to it every year,” said Larry Pernestti, president of the South Hills Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. “It is the one time they can go out and fish for free. At one time in life they enjoyed the outdoors and participated in an event like fishing.”

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The organizers are planning for at least 400 to participate and will provide fishing equipment and a cookout lunch.

“We give them a pole and bait,” he said. “We can even assist them with casting.”

Letters are sent out to nursing homes and other locations where there may be the disabled who want to participate.

“They just show up,” Pernestti said.

Joining in partnership with the NWTF are the Symmes Valley FFA, the Collins Career Center forensics class, the Lawrence Bass Club, Special Needs Youth Sportsmen Group, Izaac Walton Lake, Pedro Bass Club, Division of Wildlife, City National Bank and the Symmes Creek Restoration Committee.

“Everybody is jumping in and helping,” he said. “There is a lot to getting this ready, getting poles ready, getting bait, getting donations.”

Pernestti has been busy getting a grant of $700 to pay for 40 new poles.

“Every year I try to buy new poles,” he said.

He has also written grants to get adaptive poles and electric reels and fishing pole holders to fasten to wheelchairs.

“We have to maintain the equipment with an inventory and can be audited at any time,” he said.

Fishing starts at 10 a.m. and lasts until 2 p.m. Throughout the day organizers will grill about 2,000 hot dogs provided by City National, who buys the hot dogs, buns and sauce. Bank managers man the grills throughout the day.

Students from Symmes Valley and Collins Career Center run the food to the fishermen so they don’t have to lose their place on the boardwalk.

“It is a good feeling to provide this every year,” Pernestti said.