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Kiwanis hosts fishing fun for kids

By Staff | May 28, 2010

A successful angler holds up her prize panfish during the May 21 fishing derby at the Leetown Science Center. Photo by James P. Whipple

LEETOWN – The Leetown Science Center hosted a fishing trip for exceptional children this past Friday, May 21, at its hatchery off Leetown Road.

The Charles Town Kiwanis Club sponsored the outing. This year’s event was planned by Van Ott and his wife Beth and was the 35th Annual Fish Derby for Exceptional Children. About 53 children fished while 23 volunteers helped out. Fishing started at 10 a.m. and continued into the afternoon. Children were served lunch, and everyone was awarded prizes.

The Leetown Science Center also had a hand in the planning of the event. Some 20 employees helped stock the lake with hungry fish before the children arrived. Other employees and several hatchery volunteers made sure there were enough fishing poles and bait for the young anglers.

Ott said that the fishing derby was started by his father more than 40 years ago and that for the last 35 years the Charles Town Chapter of the Kiwanis Club has run the program.

“The volunteers are from the school system as well as from the community. There are even a few volunteers from (the business community) helping out today,” Beth Ott said.

“Kids look forward to this,” Van Ott said. “They come here at the end of the year and most of them, beginning of next year, will ask their teachers the first week of school ‘When do we get to go fishing again?'”

The Otts thanked the Kiwanis Club, Kohls, Panera Bread, Chick-fil-A, Martin’s, Weis, Leetown Fish Hatchery, Costco and the Shepherdstown Sweet Shop Bakery as well as all the community volunteers.

“Throughout the year, the Leetown Science Center hosts numerous events like this,” said Frank Roach, an employee of United States Geological Survey. “Every Friday, we have a different group coming to fish.”