Special Olympians enjoy morning of fishing at Lawrence lake despite lack of luck

photo by: Elvyn Jones

Kiper Prince, of Overland Park, get tips from Larry Hamilton, of Lawrence, during a 17-and-younger Special Olympics fishing tournament Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, at Sandra J Shaw Community Health Park. Hamilton is retired from the Lawrence Police Department, which co-hosted the event with Crown Casting Club.

Not many fish were biting on Saturday at Sandra J. Shaw Community Health Park, but that didn’t spoil the morning for the contestants in the Special Olympics fishing derby.

Fish could be spotted jumping in the park’s lake, and an angler who wasn’t competing reeled in a catfish that was about a foot long. But none of the derby contestants was reeling in anything that big, said Chris Burt, of Mission, who was one of the event’s organizers with the Kansas Special Olympics. About 30 minutes before the end of the contest, one of the contestants caught a 3-inch-long fish, though.

“They’re not having a lot of luck, but we’ll get on the fish,” Burt said.

Seven anglers ages 17 and younger from northeast Kansas were competing in the derby.

With about 45 minutes left in the contest, contestant Kiper Prince, 17, of Overland Park, shared that optimistic view.

“I’m trying my best,” he said. “I’ve caught fish before.”

Prince said he’s been fishing for about two months, and like many anglers, he had stories to tell of more successful outings. On one trip, he said, he caught 10 fish at a Johnson County lake.

Just down the shoreline, contestant Jacob Stiles, 11, of Overland Park, was getting some pointers from his father, Steven Stiles.

“The fish aren’t biting,” Jacob said. “Maybe they don’t like my bait. I’m using green worms.”

Jacob said he too had better luck at recent fishing trips in Johnson County, reeling in six or seven fish on a recent trip.

Despite the lack of fish, organizer Kim Brice still considered the derby a success. Brice is an administrative assistant with the Lawrence Police Department, which regularly sponsors Special Olympics events but hasn’t been able to do as much this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The weather made it a beautiful day to be outside, Brice said.

“We were looking for something we could do,” she said. “This is perfect because the athletes can space out along the lake and compete on a wonderful morning.”

photo by: Elvyn Jones’

Kim Brice, an employee of the Lawrence Police Department, helps Ryan Tendley, of Olathe, measure a three-inch fish he caught Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020, at a 17 and younger Special Olympics fishing tournament at Sandra J Shaw Community Health Park.


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