Growing up all my life my mom has been involved with helping and teaching kids with disabilities. She is a teacher at my high school and is the department chair of special education, and it feels like everyday she is telling me how much a have it made and much worse things could be. She gives me examples of some of her students all the time, and there is always one in particular and his name is Josh Woody. Josh has been in my mom’s class for all three years of high school, and he suffers from cerebral palsy and everyday he has to come to school in a wheelchair. This past weekend I was given the opportunity to volunteer for a fishing tournament to benefit kids that have disabilities. The National Wild Turkey Federation sponsored this tournament, and my partner just so happened to be Josh Woody, I was excited to be able to fish with someone I have known since middle school.
Waking up at five thirty on a Saturday morning is not one of my favorite things to do, but knowing that I had a chance to brighten someone’s day that is not as fortunate as me is the only thing that got me out of the bed. I met Josh and his dad at J. Iverson Riddle in Morganton at a pond the wildlife commission had stocked catfish in the day before. Getting out of his dad’s truck I had never seen a brighter smile than the one on Josh’s face, all he had been talking about in class was getting to fish this tournament with me. As we checked in Josh said that he just wanted to catch one fish because this was his first time ever going fishing, I answered him, “Josh, you will catch more than one fish, and your going to have the time of your life.” We got our bait and rods and found a spot under a willow tree where I knew they would be. First cast in, a one and a half pound catfish took the worm clear across the pond, once we got that one weighed in the second cast went out, same thing another cat was on. I could tell Josh was having a ball because he was the talk of the event, his name was heard on the microphone the whole morning about all the fish he was catching and how big the fish were.
So Josh’s first goal of catching a fish was completed, so we needed another goal and one that was a bit more challenging. Josh said that he wanted to catch the biggest fish of the hour to be entered into a drawing for a lifetime sportsman’s license, I told him that I would wade out in the water and catch a fish with my hands if that’s what it took for him to win. So with the ten to eleven o’ clock time frame started we were off to a good start with three fish weighed in by three fifteen. Two pounds was the weight we had to beat and at ten fifty five a two pound one ounce catfish was landed and weighed in. I looked at Josh and said, “I told you we would win one,” Josh was so happy that he had the fame and glory of winning, and he deserved every bit of it. We ended up catching eighteen catfish and at the end of the tournament it looked like it was the highest amount of fish caught for the day.
Josh had a huge impact on me that weekend showing me that even with a disability, being unable to walk, and knowing that he will be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life you can still have fun appreciate what you do have. I had a lot of fun with Josh and hope that we can go fishing again. But we really don’t understand how much we have it made until someone like my friend Josh shows us how bad it can be with a smile on his face the entire time. Josh could have showed he was miserable for the rest of his life but he decided to do everything…with Just a Smile…