The first annual Devin Dotson Memorial Day was held at Roaring River State Park on June 9. The event was held in honor Dotson, a Cassville 15-year-old, who died in an automobile crash last November.
"We wanted to do something in honor of Devin," said Denise Wierman, Devin's mother. "He was quite a child. He was always very compassionate when it came to people who are handicapped or disabled.
"If someone picked on or shunned a person with a disability, Devin would say, 'Momma, they never asked to be that way. They are just like everyone else. It isn't who you are on the outside. It is who you are on the inside,'" said Denise. "We felt this was something Devin would want us to do, and we did it honor of him."
Around 40 clients from Arc of the Ozarks were able to participate in the first annual Devin Dotson Memorial Day. During the event, the participants enjoyed free fishing and were able to eat the fish they caught throughout the day.
Denney Weirman, works for me at Fabritec,"?said Doris Conner, who helped organize the event. "One day he was talking to me and he said that Devin was always big in his church group and liked to help other people. Denney said since Devin's life was cut short his family would like to do something that would help people in honor of Devin."
Conner contacted Jerry Dean, Roaring River hatchery manager, and asked for suggestions on how to organize a fishing event. Dean told Conner that Arc of the Ozarks was searching for an organization interested in sponsoring a fishing day for their clients.
"Denney and Denise invited our clients to come down and fish, and they paid for all of the expenses and provided cash prizes for those who caught the largest fish," said Brandi Serrand, Arc of the Ozarks staff support service lead. "Then they cut, cleaned and cooked fish for our clients."
Family members, friends and co-workers of Denney and Denise served as volunteers throughout the event. The volunteers helped Arc of the Ozarks clients learn to fish and then taught them how to clean and cook the trout.
"We cleaned around 100 fish, and the people really enjoyed learning how to clean and cook the trout," said Conner. "We cooked all the fish they caught, and they ate every one of them.
"I think a lot of the individuals who participated had never been fishing before," said Conner. "We taught them to cast, and by the end of the day, they were getting the hang of it."
Prizes were awarded to several of the clients who landed large fish. JD Guyll won first place for largest fish and largest stringer and was awarded $50 and a free fish mount.
Other prize winners included: Donna Remington; Elizabeth Townsend; Erick Hall; Evie York; Greg Farris; Jim Fredrick; John Whiting; Kim Davis; Lori Hoyt; Max Williams; Nathan Hammers; Peter Page; Rachel Brummet; Robert Kirkpatrick; Stephen Johnson; and Veronica Gilliam. All participants received a gift certificate to McDonald's.
"I don't know who had more fun, us or them,"?said Conner. "Everybody had a great time, and we are already gathering donations for next year. We hope to make this an annual event."
Devin Dotson Memorial Day business sponsors included: Architectural Systems; B & P Grocery; Scott's Taxidermy; Fabritec; True Value; Security Abstract; Jeff's Plumbing; Barry County Abstract; and Visions of Wildlife Taxidermy.
Individuals or businesses interested in supporting the annual Devin Dotson Memorial Day can make donations to the Devin Dotson Fishing Fund, which has been established at Freedom Bank in Cassville.