A Fisherman's Spirit�
By Rich Johnson
starts with good-natured kidding of friends on the Great South Bay. Fun and laughs, some
fishing, swimming, diving and within seconds ones entire life changed. How about a
senior in high school out for a night of fun and within seconds a DWI accident changed his
life forever? Both young men end up in wheelchairs for the rest of their lives. What does
this have to do to with fishing?
I took a
trip last week on the Oakdale based charter boat Hydro Therapy, owned by Mike
Cirovolo. Mike was the first young man in this story injured in the diving accident. An
avid fisherman who loved the water all his life, after his accident he felt the need to
get back on the water to help his rehab, his spirit and get back whatever normalcy he
could recover after the shocking accident six years ago
fishing was the main
Once back into fishing, it was scary being lifted over
the gunwales of charter boats or his friends private boats, so he researched and
asked boat manufacturers to custom build him a boat for his wheelchair specific needs. He
found such a manufacturer in Parker Boats. It was on this boat I had one of the most
interesting trips and conversations of my life.
on the trip was good friend and retired high school principal, Robin Calitri and a good
friend of his Peter Hawkins, the young man injured in the car crash 19 years ago as a
senior in high school. Mike Cirovolo stayed at the tackle shop to tend to business while
his brother Anthony was at the helm for our trip. Tony is a licensed captain running the
boat on a full time basis with first mate Travis. All of this was being filmed for my
television show to be seen this Fathers Day weekend.
We spoke of
the circumstances leading to both mens new lives, the high school fishing club Robin
started eight years ago for physically and emotionally challenged students to mingle with
able bodied kids and the love of fishing all we all shared, no matter where we were in our
lives. While Peter is not as fanatical about fishing as the rest of us, he thoroughly
enjoyed the day and camaraderie of his fellow fishermen. By the way, Peter is a celebrity
in his own right having won 10 of the last 11 Long Island marathons! We shared laughs,
stories and went through the day catching a variety of fish with sea robins, sundials,
fluke, bluefish and shad all sharing in our day.
It was an
eye opening experience for me and will be for anyone who watches the show. It was obvious
after meeting Mike and fishing with Peter, its the character and mettle inside that
makes a fisherperson and not the size or numbers of the fish caught. Contact the Hydro
Therapy charter boat at 631-981-0095 or on the web at www.hydrotherapyfishing.com. You can
see a clip from this TV show or buy the tape by going to the 2001
Video Clips page in the site.