Smith Mountain Striper Club helps local kids battling illnesses

Several members of the Smith Mountain Striper Club showed kids from Carilion Clinic Children's Hospital the joy of fishing Saturday.

Dozens of children, many of them suffering from life-threatening illnesses, picked up a rod and reel for the first time. The rookie anglers learned the joy of reeling in a fish and hopefully, for a few brief minutes, forgot about their own troubles.

The Striper Club introduced the children to fishing as part of a weekend retreat held by Carilion at the Smith Mountain Lake 4-H Center. The event gives children and their parents a chance to rest and have fun.

According to Jill Davis, one of the organizers with Carilion, many families are constantly weighed down by an illness. This three-day event allows parents to relax and gives children a chance to have fun instead of being stuck in a hospital.

"It's their time to be kids and not focus on an illness," Davis said.

Children are lead by 4-H staff and Carilion nurses on multiple activities in addition to fishing, such as canoeing, archery, swimming, and building campfires. During that time, parents enjoy cooking classes, exercise classes, team building exercises, and long massages.

The Smith Mountain Lake Striper Club has been taking part in the weekend for several years at the 4-H Center. The club also teaches 4-H campers how to fish at the center multiple times each year.

To read more of this and other stories, pick up a copy of this week's Smith Mountain Eagle on newsstands or subscribe online or by calling 719-5100. A year's subscription, which is just $26 in Bedford, Franklin and Pittsylvania County, also gives you free access to the Smith Mountain Eagle's e-edition, an online version of the entire newspaper.

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