Don Barone calls a fishing pole the magic wand of childhood.
Two years ago, the fishing writer for Bassmaster.com was visiting with a young boy in Cullman, Ala., whose home had been recently destroyed by an F4 tornado. The boy had just found his fishing pole in pieces.
“He got real emotional and said he wouldn't be able to fish anymore,” Barone said. “I told him not to worry, that we would get him fishing tackle. Frankly, I had no idea how we were going to do that.”
Barone, a former producer for ESPN's Outside the Lines, then returned to his RV and cried.
That is the moment that the Tackle the Storm Foundation essentially was born. Three months later, Barone officially founded the charity.
He then returned to Cullman with other pro anglers from the Bassmaster Tour and distributed free fishing rods to the children who had lost their magic wands of childhood in that terrible twister.
Tackle the Storm did the same for the children of Joplin, Mo., following the F5 tornado that flattened the city in May 2011.
Recently, Tackle the Storm also provided free fishing equipment for the students of Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., and the survivors of the school shooting were treated to a day of fishing at a nearby lake.
Now, Tackle the Foundation wants to help the children of central Oklahoma whose lives have been uprooted by May's deadly tornadoes.
On Saturday, in conjunction with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Moore Parks and Recreation Department, Tackle the Storm Foundation will provide free fishing gear to young tornado victims at the Kids Fishing Derby in Moore.
“My goal is to put every child who got hit by the tornado and lost their fishing stuff back on the water,” Barone said.