“But you live in McCall, 4 hours from our local project?” I remember asking Brian Oakland, of Got Fishing, when he first reached out to us and told us he was going to not only raise funds for our Idaho Projects, but he wanted to join our project in Coeur’d Alene. He said, “I want to be involved in not just donations, but in the actual work—I’ll be there!”
Brian and his team hit the ground running with supporting TMP—they raised enough funds from their generous Got Fishing clients to support 3 kids. As if meeting this goal wasn’t enough, Brian called me and asked what else we needed. I put out there our hopes of getting a trailer for our local project, to haul all of our gear around. We had recently received a local grant from the Rotary in Coeur’d Alene, but we didn’t have the full amount yet to purchase the trailer. Within two weeks, Brian talked with his friends at Coeur’ d Alene Hockey Academy and Trailers Plus, and we had a trailer!
We already knew at that point that Brian is a guy that sticks to his word, but our team was curious how he was even possibly going to mentor with our project so far away from where he lives. But, like a super-human, Brian meant everything he said; he made the long drives from McCall and Montana to North Idaho, slept in his camp trailer, worked from the road, and made it to the 5 outings to fish with his mentee. His mentee was a perfect match for Brian, both addicted to fishing and ready for a good time at every outing! Brian’s mentee adored Brian’s enthusiastic energy and ability to truly make each TMP day so fun! They fished in a boat for blue gill and bass, at 2 local ponds for big rainbow trout, and our final outing was to hunt for native cutthroat trout.
On our final outing, Brian left where he was staying and drove 3 hours in the early morning to make it to the North Fork of the Coeur D’Alene river. When his mentee showed up to fish with him for the day, we were shocked to see he was in a cast and had broken his leg the night before on a ladder.
His Dad, (awesome human to drive all the way out to us after being in the ER the day before!) said, “All he was saying when he broke his leg and was at the ER, was that he won’t miss out on fishing with Brian tomorrow!”
Brian, our other mentor, Frank Wakeley, and the mentee’s Dad, went above and beyond to make the day as fun as possible and most memorable. They hauled his wheel chair down to the river, showed him bugs, helped him cast, let him squirt them with his squirt guns, and he ended up not only getting all of his own fly fishing gear to keep, but he caught 3 fish from a wheel chair!
The next day, Brian called me and said, he understands why we say during our mentor interviews that if you are going to mentor, you have to show up.
He said, with a crackly voice of understanding, “I couldn’t imagine my mentee showing up to fish with me, after breaking his leg and having such a difficult childhood, looking forward to fishing with ME, and me not being there for him.”
Because of Brian’s willingness to go the extra mile(s), we were able to put a smile on a child’s face and a positive memory of someone caring enough to show up for them was locked into his memory bank. We have no doubt this kiddo is going to continue to use fly fishing as one of his tools in his tool box of life!
Thank you to Brian at Got Fishing and their team for all they have done for our local project and our TMP national program! Please check out their services—if Brian goes above and beyond for us, we know he will do the same for your fishing trip plans!!
We also want to thank our amazing lead mentor, Wayne Wakkinen, our fun mentors, and the Rotary Club of Coeur d’Alene, Clear Water Summit Group, Coeur’d Alene Hockey Academy, and Trailers Plus in Post Falls, for their generous support this year–sponsoring kids and helping us get our first trailer! We were able to serve 10 children in or adopted out of care in North Idaho! Our best season yet!!!