Man starts nonprofit and takes thousands of children fishing to teach them life lessons


William “Big Will” Dunn doesn’t go fishing to catch fish.He goes on fishing trips to see the transformational power it has on the kids he brings fishing.“There is such a feeling of freedom,” 11-year-old Jayden told CBS News. “It’s so special to be out here.”Dunn started taking kids fishing more than a decade ago.

The first kid he took fishing was a neighbor whose dad wasn’t around.“It was a joy seeing this little boy catch a fish that he never caught in his life,” Dunn said.Dunn got to talking to the 8-year-old boy after he kept seeing the boy storm in and out of his house.“I wondered what was going on in his life, so one day, I decided to ask him,” Dunn told The Washington Post.

“He told me that he didn’t have a father, and I realized there might be something I could do for him.”

Dunn recalled the time he spent fishing with his own dad and how it brought him peace and taught him patience.

“When you’re on the water, you can forget about your problems and just appreciate the moment,” Dunn said.
He got permission from the boy’s mom to take him fishing and had no idea that it would lead to a 15-year endeavor that would result in taking thousands of kids on fishing experiences.

Dunn takes groups of kids out just about every weekend.

Many of them don’t have father figures in their lives, live in foster care, and/or have never fished before.
“They’d been through a lot and they’d seen a lot, and their lives were difficult,” Dunn said. “But when they were fishing, all of that faded away.”

“Out on the boat, they’d be laughing and smiling and making new friends. I knew I was on to something.”

Dunn spent chunks of his own paychecks from his job selling tires job to pay for charter boats for the fishing expeditions.
He officially created the non-profit Take a Kid Fishing Inc. in Orlando, FL in 2018.

Dunn recently took two sisters who lost both of their parents on Christmas Eve for some expeditions.

“I’ve taken them out several times on a pontoon with their grandparents, and I’ve noticed they’ve become more calm and happy with each trip,” he said. “A big part of that transformation is because of fishing.”

Dunn says the best part of his fishing trips from his childhood were the memories he created with his family and friends.

That’s what he hopes these kids will take away with him after their fishing trips… good memories.
“Will is authentic and meets people where they are,” Tom Pichette, a former youth pastor who sometimes accompanies Dunn on trips, said.

“Kids can sense that he’s genuine,” said Pichette. “They’ve been dealt some hard cards and they climb aboard with some tough stories. But Will always accepts them as they are.”

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