Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 28, 1999

ANNA MONICA / L’Observateur / July 28, 1999

The dad’s name is Gerald. His son is Chris. They live in Baton Rouge. The messageon the internet from Gerald said he had an 11-year-old boy who had cerebral palsy and was a die-hard fisherman. They wanted to meet someone who had aboat and could take Chris fishing, and Gerald would pay for the gas. However,Chris could not travel a long way from home for long periods of time.

Sammy Accardo Jr., formerly of LaPlace and now of Garyville, is an avidfisherman. When it comes to sports, make his fishing, and when he gets done hewill fish some more. He and his wife of two and a half years, Jennifer, have adeal: Sammy fishes and Jennifer shops. It works really well for them, butJennifer says she is running out of things to buy. When not fishing, Sammy takesany opportunity he can to check the fishing web page on the internet. That iswhere he found the request from Gerald.

Right away, Sammy wrote back and told Gerald he would be going down Blind River on Saturday and would be pleased to take the boy out.

Father and son met Sammy at the Blind River boat launch that weekend and stayed out fishing for most of the day with Gerald and Sammy acting as deck hands while Chris did the fishing. He caught brim and catfish and had anabsolutely wonderful time. Sammy didn’t want any money for the gas. Sincethen, they have kept in touch via e-mails.

That event is leading to a really good thing. Realizing that there are a lot morekids out there like Chris, several months ago Sammy was inspired to put out an idea on the internet about doing a “Kids Charity Fishing Rodeo.” People from thesouth Louisiana sport fishing community saw the message and liked the idea.

They are now in the process of forming a corporation to put on a fishing rodeo to benefit handicapped kids. At this time they are aiming for an October 1999 date.One of the organizers contributing to this effort is Mike Lane (of Rod ‘N, who is well known in the fishing community.There are others who saw the idea on the internet fishing site and who want to participate in forming a non-profit corporation to put on this fishing rodeo. Theinterested fishermen so far come from as far away as Church Point in the west to Poplarville, Miss., in the east and all points in between. More localparticipation is also anticipated. Tentatively, the rodeo is set to be held atBreton Sound marina near Shell Beach. More on that as plans are finalized.Sammy says that with all the negative behavior demonstrated by kids today, this is the most positive thing to do. He then quoted: “Give a guy a fish, you feedhis stomach; teach him how to fish, you feed his soul.”Remember the song when CB’s were really the “in” thing about a little boy whose trucker dad had died and he, himself, was sickly but wanted most of all to ride in an 18-wheeler? He came on the CB in the middle of the night to talk to the truckers, and his story so touched the heart of the truckers he was picked up and given the ride he longed for. I may not have the story quite right, but it wassomething like that.

Sammy is an attorney in LaPlace and this story is true. It reminds me of the onein the song. He is also my nephew, the son of my sister and brother-in-law,Cookie and Sammy Sr. of LaPlace. I am proud of him and his kind heart and alsoof the other fishermen who want to help. He has already heard from Gerald andChris. They want to take part in the rodeo. Then perhaps they can see what theystarted for all the souls out there waiting to be fed.

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