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Fishing For Fun

MONTICELLO – Sean Dailey, his family and their new friends at the Georgia-Pacific mill celebrated several firsts this weekend as they enjoyed a Catch-A-Dream wish fulfillment event.

     For the 8-year-old Dailey, from Pittsburgh, the event was the first chance he has had to fish since being diagnosed with a malignant brainstem tumor in August of last year.

     “Sean is having tons of fun and everybody has been really nice,” said his mother, Kara Morgan, following a traditional Saturday lunch at the G-P Monticello mill pavilion.

     Because of the tumor’s progression, Dailey has limited mobility on his left side and a speech impediment. That, however, has not limited the boy’s enjoyment and his efforts to catch lots of fish.

     “He’s quite a fella,” said Dr. Marty Brunson, executive director of the Catch-A-Dream Foundation. “If he wants to do something … he’s determined to get it done.”

     Brunson said Dailey learned to use a rod and reel by first casting and then holding the rod between his legs and using his good hand to turn the reel. Among the fish caught were channel catfish, largemouth bass and spotted bass.

     Dailey’s request on the application was to go to a “special fishing spot with lots of fish to catch.” Brunson indicated that was goal had been accomplished during the several fishing outings since Dailey and his family arrived Thursday.

     The fishing outings happened on mill property at the cooling reservoir. It pulls in water from the Pearl River for use at the mill.

     “It’s literally full of fish,” Brunson said.

     Another first was that this year was the first time the Monticello mill has hosted a fishing excursion. The mill has hosted Catch-A-Dream events every year since 2002.

     “Every one before has been a deer-hunting excursion,” Brunson said.

     Foundation leaders got the idea to have fishing events at Monticello last year when some members of 11-year-old Jacob Parsons’ family fished while the West Virginia boy hunted. Brunson called the mill property an “ideal resource.”

     This weekend’s event was Catch-A-Dream’s first for 2013. Since its inception in 2003, the foundation – started by Brookhaven’s the late Bruce Brady – has granted approximately 440 outdoors-related wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses.

     Brunson said the foundation recently has fielded about four times as many requests for fishing events as opposed to hunting wishes. Also, requests have been coming in from younger people, in the 7- to 8-year-old range.

     Dailey, his mother, step-father Mike Morgan, and 4-year-old sister Mikaya arrived in Jackson Thursday and toured Bass Pro Shop before coming to Monticello for fishing.

     For Mike Morgan, the Catch-A-Dream event offered another first that was not quite so well received. The trip from Pennsylvania was his first time to fly – and he was not a fan.

     “I don’t like it all,” he said with a shake of the head. “I’d rather drive or catch a train or something.”

     Regardless of Morgan’s feelings about flying, there was nothing for anyone to get down about during the adventure. Even some Friday morning rain didn’t stop the fun.

     “We fished in a little sprinkle,” Brunson said with a laugh.

     On Saturday, between fishing outings in the morning and afternoon and before the family returns Sunday, Brunson presented Daily, his parents and his sister with gifts from the foundation.

     Among them was a camouflaged Bible with Isaiah 40:31, the foundation’s inspirational verse, highlighted.

     The verse promises that those who trust in the Lord shall renew their strength and “mount up on wings as eagles.” Brunson recalled seeing a bald eagle circle above as the family fished Friday.

     “That is our evidence that this promise is valid,” Brunson said.