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Emotions on the water

Fishing brings joy to Prairie Grit anglers

Kim Fundingsland/MDN Enjoying a quiet moment on the water during a Prairie Grit fishing trip are Aaron Esquibel, videographer, Minot, left; Craig Rollman, Granville, center; and Wyatt Rollman, 14, Granville.

GARRISON — The smile on the young angler’s face, and the watery eyes of those sharing the boat, tell the tale. After a testy battle, some of it on the surface, a shining Lake Sakakawea salmon is safely in the net.

The successful fisherman is Wyatt Rollman, 14, Granville. He also has muscular dystrophy. On this evening though, he has gladly traded his wheelchair for a seat in the fishing boat of Kellen Latendresse, Minot, operator of Latendresse Guide Service. The fishing trip was arranged through Prairie Grit Adoptive Sports.

Also making the trip was Wyatt’s father, Craig, and Aaron Esquibel, Minot, who is a videographer and avid supporter of Prairie Grit.

“Making short films is a hobby of mine,” said Esquibel. “I film a lot of the work with Prairie Grit. Kellen approached me about this fishing trip. It’s cool to see Wyatt be successful.”

Rollman was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at age 5. By age 12 the muscle weakening disease landed him in a wheelchair. On this night though, he was landing fish on Lake Sakakawea and thoroughly enjoying the opportunity and experience.

Kim Fundingsland/MDN Hailey Graner, 17, Minot, reacts to the sight of salmon she just landed on Lake Sakakawea. Holding the fish is guide Kellen Latendresse, Minot. Graner’s fishing trip was arranged through Prairie Grit of Minot.

“Fun? Oh yeh! I’m having a lot of fun!” said Rollman after boating his first salmon of the evening. “It’s a workout and that’s the first salmon I’ve ever caught!”

Craig Rollman, Wyatt’s father, watched his son reel in the salmon. The moment brought a broad smile to his face.

“It’s a great experience,” said Craig Rollman. “I’m glad for Prairie Grit and Aaron and Kellen and everybody for helping us out. We are having a great time. It’s amazing!”

The time on the water was special for Latendresse too. It marked his third fishing trip of the spring with Prairie Grit Adaptive Sports.

“They are amazing kids,” remarked Latendresse. “To see the excitement on their faces and give them the opportunity to do what they maybe don’t normally get to do, it’s pretty rewarding. Seeing Wyatt reel in that fish, you can’t put a price tag on that. He said he was tired but he was all smiles.”

A few days earlier Pat and Hailey Graner were on the water, making memories and smiles. Hailey Graner, 17, is a senior at Minot High School who was born with spinocerebellar ataxia. She also caught a salmon that provided her with a never-to-be-forgotten experience.

“Sometimes I felt like it took forever, but I got ’em!” said Graner.

She also expressed thanks for Prairie Grit and the opportunity to get on the water.

“Prairie Grit is like awesome!” exclaimed Graner. “I’ve been able to do so many activities that normally I wouldn’t have been able to do. It’s an organization that allows you to do so much, experience so many things. It really levels the playing field and it’s a lot of fun to experience that teamwork.”

Part of the teamwork referred to by Graner involved Chloe Jackson of Jackson Taxidermy Studio of Garrison. She became involved with Prairie Grit participants a year ago during a day on Lake Sakakawea at Van Hook and determined she wanted to do more. The “more” is adding something special to top off a day on the water for Prairie Grit anglers.

“We figured it would be really cool to get mounts for a memory, to remember their day out on the water and make it really special for them,” said Jackson. “This year I’ve got two salmon and a northern pike to mount.”

Like others who have helped out with Prairie Grit Adaptive Sports, Jackson has found the experience extremely rewarding.

“Oh yes. For sure,” said Jackson. “It’s a super cool thing for them and they’ll always have that memory of that day on the water.”

Prairie Grit on the big screen

“GRIT,” an adaptive hunting film, will be shown at Minot’s Oak Park Theater on Thursday, May 20. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. with the movie starting at 7 p.m. The half-hour movie was filmed during Prairie Grit hunting adventures last year. All proceeds from the screening will go to Prairie Grit. Tickets are available at Facebook.com/northprairielife.

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