Boy starts fishing program to help pediatric cancer patients

- For kids in the hospital waiting for their next pediatric cancer treatment life can be stressful. Boredom and loneliness add to the struggles they face every day.

But here in Tampa Bay one youngster is doing his part to help with that struggle. And the organization he started is born out of his love for a friend.

"You've got to learn a lot of patience when you're fishing," says Brian Lemiux, as his son Oliver dips his pole in the water.

In his first four years Oliver and many of the children here at picnic island in Tampa feel like waiting around for the fish to bite sure beats waiting around for another treatment to fight pediatric cancer.
(Brian and lauren lemieux, parents of oliver)

"We spend so much time just surviving and going to therapy appointments and treatment appointments that these kind of things help us really kind of connect together," says Brian. "And fishing is a wonderful way to do that."

The wonderful program that's brought these families together is called Angling For Relief. It was 12-year-old Jake Klopfenstein's idea.

"My friend Ryan, when he was in Kindergarten, he was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma," says Jake.

"He was never at school having fun with the kids. He was always at the hospital bored out of his mind."

Now while these children are at the hospital they get a present from Jake and his team.

"They were making dry boxes," says Lauren Lemieux, Oliver's mother and Brian's wife. "So they were sending fishing poles to the hospitals and letting the kids fish inside their rooms."

All to prepare for this day when volunteers show them how to make the most of their dry box.

"Something as simple as fishing can bring them a positive day," she says.

Jake's friend Ryan has since passed away. But his memory and his friendship with Jake live on in this fishing program that means so much to these families.

"I feel like he's looking down on me," says Jake. "Like, 'nice job'."

Jake, his family, and the rest of his team are already preparing to make their next round of tackle boxes for their third annual angling relief event next year. You can help by going to their website anglingforerelief.org. Or visiting their Facebook page.

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