The early birds are the ones to get the worms and every April, well over 200 children and their parents are outside the Fairfield Civic Center pond bright and early for the annual Robert Orlando Kids Fishing Derby.
This annual free event, sponsored and organized by the Fairfield-based Kids Day of Fishing, Inc., coincides with the city of Fairfield’s Earth Day Celebration and is for children between the ages of 3 and 15 years old and special needs children of all ages.
This year's event is set for Saturday, April 21, 2018. Sign in and registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. with the derby from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The pond will be stocked with bass and catfish for the children to catch.
Pre-registration is only available for children with special needs. All other participants must register the morning of the derby. Registration is on a first come, first served basis but there will be a donation area with gear available for children who come late.
Children will receive derby shirts, rods and reels, tackle kits and bait to fish in the pond. They can also bring their own gear from home. Approximately $3,000 in catfish and bass will be ‘planted’ in the pond several days before the derby so the fish will be fully acclimated and ready to bite when the derby kicks off at 8:30 a.m. Trophies will be awarded for top fish with a five-fish limit per angler.
"Their joy is our reward," says Kids Day of Fishing organizer Michael Johns.
The main goal of Kids Day Of Fishing is to bring joy and enrichment to the lives of special needs and under-privileged kids and families through fun, well organized community events. The organization was started in 2007 by Michael Johns and his late father, Larry Johns. Michael, the youngest of three sons, was inspired by his brother, Lee, who was born with Cerebral Palsy. Lee went on to become a systems integrator with Sprint in a management position. His success drove his younger brother's passion to work with children with special needs, knowing that they "can succeed to the top."
What started off as a $20 donation given to Mike by a stranger, and a single event with the Kiwanis Club of Suisun City, turned into a program that is now five events yearly and an annual budget of $20,000 raised from the community and friends.
For more information on Kids Day of Fishing, and to pre-register a child with special needs, visit www.kidsdayoffishing.org.