William Dunn of Lakeland, Florida, couldn’t help but observe that his next-door neighbor, who was only eight years old, was constantly running in and out of his own home, which was located across the street.
Dunn felt worried since the youngster did it frequently enough to deserve his attention.
He said, “I wondered what was going on in his life, so one day I decided to question him, then, after he informed me that he did not have a father, I became aware that there may be anything that I could do to help him.”
Dunn, now 57 years old, spent his childhood fishing with his father, who had a lobster company in the Florida Keys. Dunn helped his father with the business at one point. He said that fishing had always provided him with a sense of calm and had taught him to be patient.
“You can forget about your worries and simply enjoy the moment while you’re out on the lake,” he added. “It’s a great feeling.”
Dunn, a father of three, went out to the mother of his little neighbor and inquired as to whether or not he might take the youngster fishing.
One Saturday afternoon spent on the lake quickly led to another, and before long, Dunn found himself instructing other schoolchildren as well as the friends of the boys on how to properly handle a fishing pole, rig a line, and reel in a catch. It’s been 15 years since then.
Since that time, Dunn has often led groups of children on fishing outings throughout the weekend. The majority of them did not have any male role models in their lives and had never gone fishing before, many were foster kids.
Dunn said that these children would have a good time on the boat, where they would meet new friends and laugh a lot. That was the moment when he realized he was onto something good.
In the beginning, Dunn used a sizeable portion of his earnings from his work selling tires to pay for the weekly fishing trips that he went on charter boats. The following year, in 2018, he established the charitable organization known as Take a Kid Fishing Inc. in Lakeland, a city that is home to a large number of lakes.
Over the course of the last three and a half years, Dunn and a few volunteers have given more than 2,500 youngsters, the most of whom do not have dads in their lives, the opportunity to experience the joy of spending calm time on the lake and catching a fish.
Dunn’s commitment to serving as a mentor to these up-and-coming fishers has garnered him acclaim from members of his community.
“Kids can see that he’s sincere,” said Tom Pichette, 59, a former youth pastor who has accompanied him on numerous fishing excursions as a volunteer.