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Volunteers help kids with disabilities reel in a catch at Salem Pond

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Posted at 10:17 PM, May 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-18 00:17:30-04

SALEM, Utah -- For many kids, catching a fish is a memorable experience--maybe even a rite of passage. Reeling one in is no easy task, especially for kids with disabilities.

An annual event held at Salem Pond this past week helped nearly 1,500 kids score a catch.

“You watch the smiles on these kids' faces to catch a fish,” said Kevin Pritchett, who was among those helping the children learn to fish.

For 25 years, Pritchett has spent a spring day helping kids with disabilities learn to fish.

“This gets them outside of that box, gives them the opportunity to go and enjoy the outdoors,” he said.

The first year, he was just helping a handful of kids try out a new wheelchair friendly pier in Payson.

“About 12 or 13 years ago we outgrew Payson Lake and came to Salem Pond,” he said.

This year, there were nearly 1,500 kids--and he guarantees each one will catch a fish.

“I never touched a fish before,” one participant said.

Pritchett gets help from local Boy Scouts, including Cole Smith.

“It's a really fun tradition,” Smith said.

The Department of Wildlife Resources, as well as businesses like Sportsman's Warehouse and Smith's Food and Drug, help out.

“I don't ever have to ask twice,” Pritchett said. “Once I've asked somebody and they've come and seen it, they're calling me and wanting to know what more they can do.”