The Wild Side: Autism bass fundraiser a headliner

How big are the next eight days? B-I-G, big, and for lots of reasons.

Saturday we celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day. If you’ve never taken your youngsters to the Waddill Wildlife Education Center on North Flannary Road, you’ve missed a terrific chance to get your children knee deep into the celebration that is Louisiana’s outdoors.

The gates open at 9 a.m., and there’s enough to occupy our young folks, old folks, too, through the 3 p.m. close. There’s even enough time to get them to the kids’ fishing rodeo, take a turn at archery targets, fire a shotgun, get acquainted with snakes and alligators and learn how to cast a fly rod. Drink and food are provided and, best of all, it’s free.

Even better for youngsters is the first installment of the youth-only deer-hunting weekend in four of the state’s 10 deer hunting areas. These special weekends will follow later this year on the other six deer areas.

And there is a youth-only squirrel-hunt weekend on nearly a dozen of the state’s wildlife management areas.

Next Sunday, the core group of the Capital City’s Hunters for the Hungry has its 20th annual Clean Out Your Freezer Day, a program that has provided game, meat and fish from home freezers to the needy in the 12 parishes surrounding Baton Rouge.

Then there’s Saturday’s Angling Against Autism bass tournament. It’s a very special fundraiser for a lot of very special folks.

Don’t know about you, but autism is becoming for today’s parents what polio was for our parents back in the 1950s.

Several times every year, my email box fills with somebody sending along a “remember when” series of photographs to remind us senior citizens of 26-cent-a-gallon gas, Hopper’s, Pontchartrain Beach, nickel Coca-Colas and Barq’s root beers, penny candy and unairconditioned automobiles.

Don’t recall any of those photos showing long lines of children waiting for polio shots, and the later lines of the sugar cubes dotted with a red liquid we crushed then swallowed to prevent polio.

Our parents’ fear of polio infecting their children was palpable. Every one of us knew somebody who had polio. My cousin spent months in an iron lung, and remembering a visit to the ward where he was confined 60 years ago left an indelible impression.

Today, all of us know parents with children affected by autism in some stage of severity. What’s worse is us older folks know more families affected by autism today than we remember families who had children afflicted with polio.

These families need our help, our prayers and our contributions. South Louisiana fishermen have turned out in droves to support other children’s projects so many times in the past 30 years, and we need to add autism to our list, especially now that we know one in 88 of our young are affected.

Call Moonie Bergeron (225) 938-2834 to enter.