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14th Annual Joel Niemeyer Memorial Firefighters-North Central P.V.A. Fishing Event By Gary Howey

  As we drifted along one of the many shale bluffs on Lake Francis Case, the tip on Steve Thompson’s rod jerk violently  when  another walleye pounded the minnow at the end of his bottom bouncer rig.  Thompson, who was stationed in his wheel chair at the back of the boat, set the hook, bringing a chunky fifteen and a half walleye into the boat.

  Thompson was doing a commendable job of putting it to the brothers, as he was one walleye up on both of them.

  I was filming with Steve on a volunteer boat, captained by Bob and John Jarding of Sioux Falls. It was the second day of the event with the Jarding brothers’ boat being one of the forty-one boats volunteering to take part in the Firefighters North Central Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America and Joel Niemeyer Memorial fourteenth annual walleye-fishing event.


Joel Niemeyer

  The first event  started out small with just six boats and six veterans and grown steadily into what it is today. This year’s event,  a memorial to Niemeyer, as he was one who truly cared about our veteran’s and was a strong advocate for them and was the executive director of the North Central P.V.A. for 15 years. 

  The event, was created after Niemeyer attended a “Fishing Has No Boundaries” event.  After that event, he felt a similar one would be an excellent project for the P.VA and with the help of firefighters and volunteers from the Tri-State areahe helped to create a similar event , giving some of the attendees their only opportunity to get out on the water to do some fishing.

  This year’s event included forty-one anglers comprised of P.V.A. members, veterans, firefighters and other individuals, many of them in wheel chairs as well as forty-four volunteers and their boats. Many of the boat captains have been with the event for many years, volunteering their time and their boats to give others an opportunity to spend time on the water and go fishing.

  The Chamberlain crew, volunteers, boat captains, their crews, veterans groups and regional firefighters from three states all worked together like a synchronized ballet.

  As those in wheelchairs arrived, a volunteer crew was on hand operating donated lifting equipment from R&R Gravel & Trucking and Cash Fees.  These lifts allowed those in wheel chairs to safely load and unload into the boats.  As each individual arrived, their wheel chairs were lifted into the boats, which then moved down to the docks to launch. This scenario was completed repeatedly until all those in wheel chairs were loaded.

  One of the volunteer boat captains, Kirk Klos, LeMars, IA.  would be fishing with the same individuals he had been with the year before. This individual had only had the use of his hands and fished by tapping on an electric reel, allowing him to reel in the fish. [Read more…]