Austin Chuhak’s Fishing Wish
One day while sitting at my desk doing some paperwork and some day dreaming the phone suddenly rang bringing me back to reality. When I picked the phone up there was a brief moment of silence and then a voice asked, “Is this the office of Benefit4Kids”? I told them it was and asked how I could help. On the other end of the phone was the father of 8 year-old Austin Chuhak from central Michigan who suffers from Spinal Muscular Atrophy. The type he has is considered terminal although he could well live into his 20's. Right now he has pins in his legs, spine and chest to help him stay upright, yet Austin was determined enough to talk his Dad into signing him up for Cub Scouts. Austin wanted to go fishing but his dad didn’t know where to start. He had found out about Benefit4Kids from a flier he saw and was hoping we may be able to help him take Austin fishing.
When we asked Austin what kind of fish he wanted to fish for he said he didn’t care. He just wanted to go fishing with his dad and roast some marshmallows. It was coming up on October and the weather was turning cooler each day. Austin was no doubt a tough kid but the cold was one thing his body couldn’t tolerate, we had to move fast. As soon as I hung up the phone I knew right where to go to start to make Austin’s fishing trip happen. I put away my paperwork and logged on to Michigan-Sportsman.com I knew if I was going to put together a fishing trip in time for Austin to go this year the guys at Michigan-Sportsman.com could make it happen.
I posted the info about Austin and was hoping to put together a weekend salmon, steelhead or walleye trip for him within two weeks. I didn’t take long before several guys e-mailed me that they could help if Austin wanted to fish Lake Huron or the St. Clair River. One fellow was offering a salmon trip and the other a walleye trip if that’s what Austin wanted. Now I just had to find out which trip Austin wanted and figure out a way for he and his dad to roast marshmallows. That was going to be a tough one, as we would have to put them up in a motel for their trip since the weather was getting colder. Then before I could get a hold of Austin’s dad the phone rang again and my troubles where over.
When I answered the phone it was Paul Baker on the line. He was laughing as he told me what had just happened. He called his best friend Brent Dutcher to tell him he may need help taking a little guy fishing in a few weeks if the boy decided to go Walleye fishing. Brent laughed as he explained to Paul that that same boy might be going fishing for Salmon with him if he chooses to go after Salmon. It turns out these two friends unknown to each other had both offered a fishing trip to Austin and his dad. Paul explained to me that instead of making Austin choose they would take him Salmon fishing on Saturday in Brent’s boat and Walleye fishing Sunday in Paul’s boat. But these two guys weren’t done yet. Paul told me they had contacted a bunch of friends and were putting together a big fish fry in Austin’s honor at a friend’s house complete with a big bonfire for roasting marshmallows. The trip was set.
Two weeks later Austin and his dad arrived in St. Clair and met with Brent and Paul for dinner. As they discussed the next days fishing Paul stated there was nothing you could do to you get the smile off of Austin’s face. They ate like kings that night and after telling a bunch of fish tales they all headed to bed for a good nights sleep. There’s no doubt about what Austin’s dream would be that night.
The next two days they fished hard and in the end they didn't get any Salmon but did great on the Walleyes and Austin had a wonderful time. Once done fishing they headed out for the fish fry and to meet more friends for Austin. At the house where the fish fry was held there happened to be a big pond full for blue gills and bass. I’ll let you guess where you could find Austin until the fish was ready and it was time to roast marshmallows. Austin’s dad said he thought Austin would sleep all the way home but instead he talked non-stop about the great time he had fishing. But even more than that he talked about his new friends and their plans to get together again to wet a line.
Our sincerest thanks to Paul and Brent for taking Austin and his dad out for a GREAT weekend of fishing and fun. We’d also like to thank Dan Zuck from Dan’s Freshwater Fish Taxidermy for mounting a few of Austin’s fish. It’s because of people like these three guys that Benefit4Kids is able to help so many kids like Austin. They are the true heroes of our outdoor world.