Fund-raising efforts begin for David F. Johnson Accessible Fishing Pier Project
The Rockford Park District and Rockford Park District Foundation kicked off fund-raising efforts May 15 for the David F. Johnson Accessible Fishing Pier Project. A news conference was held at the future site of the permanent fishing pier located along the Rock River, just south of the Auburn Street bridge. The accessible pier would be accessed via the Rock River Recreation Path, and wheelchair parking is nearby.
The ability to fish requires accessibility, but for those with physical disabilities, those opportunities are very limited. At this point, even the largest body of water in the Rockford area, the Rock River, has no wheelchair-accessible features.
“Handrails and other accessible features are not typical along the shorelines of local rivers, lakes and ponds. This accessible pier would mean anglers with disabilities would have a safe spot to take part in the sport they love,” said Events and Recreation Projects Manager John Beck.
Members of the Rockford chapter of AMBUCS (a service club promoting independent lifestyles for people with disabilities) and local fishing clubs approached the Rockford Park District to offer to help raise funds for pier construction. The cost for this project is approximately $110,000. If at least $50,000 is raised, the CBW Foundation will provide a challenge gift of $25,000.
The Rockford Park District Foundation is helping to raise money to build the accessible fishing pier. The pier will be named after David F. Johnson, an avid fisherman, Rockford alderman, and local disability advocate.
“Dave was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at the age of 14. Despite his health, his true passion was fishing, and he loved teaching others how to fish. This project honors his many years as a strong advocate for accessibility to buildings, for public transportation, and sidewalk curb cuts,” said Valerie Johnson, Dave’s wife.
For 30 years, Dave and world-class fisherman Babe Winkelman were friends and fishing buddies.
To help raise money for the accessible fishing pier, Winkelman and other area friends, like Founder and President of First Rockford Group Sunil Puri, are hosting a fund-raiser called “Babe Winkelman’s Tribute to Professor Bass, Davey Johnson” June 14. The fund-raiser will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at Radisson Hotel & Conference Center, 200 S. Bell School Road, Rockford, with a VIP reception beginning at 5 p.m. for anyone who contributes $100 or more. Tickets are $30 each, and $300 for a table of eight.
Purchase tickets or make a donation at the following Blackhawk Bank locations:
• 2475 N. Perryville Road, Rockford
• 3101 11th St., Rockford
• 9609 Forest Hills Road, Machesney Park
• 5206 Elevator Road, Roscoe
• 2141 N. State St., Belvidere
Tickets can also be purchased at:
• Rockford Park District Foundation, 401 S. Main St., Rockford
• Lynch Family Chiropractic, 3806 E. State St., Rockford
Make checks payable to: DFJ Accessible Fishing Pier Fund. The fund-raising event includes a fish fry and special silent auction with 30-plus items from Dave’s fishing/outdoor art and object collection. All money raised goes to the David F. Johnson Accessible Fishing Pier.
For more information about Babe Winkelman’s Tribute to “Professor Bass, Davey Johnson,” contact event organizer Valerie Johnson at (815) 262-9717 or email@example.com.
For more information or questions about how to make a donation to the accessible fishing pier, contact Lisa Alexander, Rockford Park District Foundation donor relations coordinator, at (815) 987-1632 or via e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the May 16-22, 2012, issue
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