Memories were made and hearts were
filled with laughter.
United Special Sportsman Alliance, Inc. (USSA) is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit wish-granting charity. The organization utilizes volunteers to take critically ill and disabled children and disabled veterans on outdoor adventures. They match up well with the catfish community because of their willingness to share.
USSA recently held one of their Child Wish programs in Tennessee near Jasper. The July 9-10, 2021 gathering was new to Tennessee, with more planned for the future. The modus operandi is to pair kids and captains for some fishing and fun. USSA provided lodging at the Hampton Inn, Kimball, TN, and food while volunteer boat captain/guides delivered a special experience to disabled and critically ill youth ages 4 to 19 years old.
The event was coordinated by Sheryl Ridenour, USSA Rep for the state of TN. The fishing took place out of Shellmound Boat Ramp, Jasper, TN. Ridenour knows from experience how beneficial the event can be.
“We’re just getting events started here in TN,” said Ridenour. “It’s off to a great start with this event. My son, Hunter, is on the autistic spectrum and was once on the receiving end of this charity. It turned his world around!”
“Brigid O’Donoghue, is the COB, CEO, and Founder United Special Sportsman Alliance,” continued Ridenour. “She was definitely our Angel. Hunter has made lifelong friends/mentors through this charity. Now we just want to help give these blessings to more families. It’s very rewarding, especially seeing the smiles on families’ faces like we did this weekend.”
Seven children enjoyed the benefits offered by the event. Larry Muse captained one boat with the assistance of Hunter Ridenour. Lonnie and Donnie Fountain skippered the other boats with assistance from Donnie’s daughter Samantha and her hubby.
The event was staged for Tennessee families but it was a multi-state affair. The children were all from Tennessee while the anglers were from Mississippi and Georgia.
With support from the Hampton Inn, Kimball, families stayed overnight Friday and fished Saturday morning. The fishermen were met with rain but the sun came out and the fish cooperated.
“Memories were made and hearts were filled with laughter,” said Joyce Muse. “This was the first event held in Tennessee for this chapter. Several special families enjoyed some quality time in the outdoors.”
“We are hoping to expand the program and recruit more children from across the state of Tennessee to take fishing in the future,” concluded Sheryl Ridenour.
From the USSA website: USSA is composed of a 100% volunteer staff from all walks of life, bonded together by a common love for our fellow man and deep respect and appreciation of our world’s natural resources. Working cooperatively with caring “Adventure” donors as well as generous individual and corporate sponsors, USSA significantly impacts the lives of thousands of children, disabled veterans, and their families. Through these valuable efforts, the image of sportsmen is enhanced in the public eye, and lifelong friendships are made.
To learn more about the charity, please view the website at www.childswish.org.
The following photos tell the story better than words. CatfishNOW would like to congratulate the Tennessee Chapter of USSA and wish them the best of luck in their future programs.