Fishing rodeo honors memory of young woman who loved animals, people
by Laura Gaddy
lbjohnson@annistonstar.com
Jun 09, 2013 | 2694 views |  0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Participants wait for a bite at the 9th Annual Katy Williamson Memorial Fishing Rodeo in Wellington. (Anniston Star photo by Stephen Gross)
Participants wait for a bite at the 9th Annual Katy Williamson Memorial Fishing Rodeo in Wellington. (Anniston Star photo by Stephen Gross)
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WELLINGTON — Piedmont native Mitch Rogers never met Katy Williamson, but he understands the significance of the annual Hook and Cook Memorial Fishing Rodeo held in her honor.

“It’s just opened up a whole new world and different ideas,” said Rogers, one of the event's organizers in recent years. “It’s made me less self-centered.”

Williamson died almost a decade ago at age 20 in a farming accident on her parents’ Wellington farm. Every year since, her parents, Susan and John Williamson, have invited children from the Boys and Girls Club to fish from a small pond on their family property.

“Her heart would be right here,” John Williamson said, standing near the pond where dozens of children stood with fishing poles in hand. “She would so love to do this.”

Each year at the farm about 80 children from the Boys and Girls Club in Calhoun, Talledga and Randolph counties attend the event. There they can dig for worms, bait their hooks and toss their lines into the pond with donated rods and reels.

For each fish caught, a bell is rung and, no matter its size, the fish is cleaned and cooked for the kids to eat. Throughout the day organizers count and weigh the fish so they can give awards at the end of the event.

Awards are given to the child who catches the largest fish, the smallest fish and the most fish.

While some children fish, others swim in the family pool or slip down an inflatable water slide on the lawn.

“This is something we do now on an annual basis,” said Johnny Byrd, a leader with the Boys and Girls Club. “Whenever young people have the opportunity to see that people care … it enables them to care.”

Byrd said the Boys and Girls Club didn’t have to apply to participate; the family just began offering the event to the organization. He said many of club’s members have never fished before and he added that he hopes it motivates them to give back.

Susan Williamson said they decided to begin the annual event after her late daughter’s former co-workers at Animal Medical Center recommended it at a memorial service for Katy, who at the time of her death was working at the animal clinic and also pursuing a career in nursing.

Susan Williamson said they’ve continue hosting the annual event to honor Katy, who was known for her love of nature and of people.

“I wouldn’t think of not doing it,” Williamson said. “Katy loved to teach kids, to swim and hunt and fish.”

Staff Writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.
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