Eighteen families on 18 inches of ice!

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The morning air was chilly, around 10 degrees, everyone arrived warmly dressed for the annual USSA Winterfest event. Eighteen USSA families from around Wisconsin attended with their children, ages ranging from 6 to 19.

Seven-year-old Freya was smiling ear to ear when she saw her dad, Carl, an Army vet enter the registration building where she and her mom were waiting. They gave each other a big hug and headed out to the frozen lake in hopes of catching some fish.

Several ice shanties were set up around the lake with heaters to keep everyone toasty warm, and hot chocolate was available on site.

Jolene said, “We had the line in, and Freya was jigging, and Carl told her, “you have a fish on there,” and she started reeling it up and got it. She was very excited and couldn’t wait to tell her friends at school. We were very proud of her!”

Kevin Johnson, a tournament trail fisherman, has volunteered for USSA events for over a decade. He said, “Finding active fish was tough and has been throughout the area no matter where you go. Many people have been having trouble right at this point in the season catching fish. The fish came through on the locator but would not bite no matter what you tried. While waiting, the family and I talked about a lot of stuff and were surprised we came from the same town. Overall, we had a really good time with lots of laughter and fellowship.”

Following a warm and tasty lunch, the families headed out to the big hill to go sledding. It was heartwarming to see young brothers safely helping children board their sleds for their exhilarating ride down the hill! Likewise, watching the parents enjoy reliving their childhood winter memories was an amazing shared experience.

“My kids had a blast, and so did I,” expressed a parent. “It was another reminder to take time to have fun and be in the moment, rather than always thinking about the things that need to get done.”

A heartfelt thank you to Saddle Mound Cranberry Marsh, anglers, and the USSA volunteers for giving these beautiful families a memorable ice-fishing and sled-riding trip. Also, the volunteers who made the warm blankets, hats & mittens, and stuffed animals. God bless!

If you know of a deserving child or veteran who might want to attend a free fishing trip, please contact United Special Sportsman Alliance.