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Fish-Abled Foundation helps people with disabilities feel like family

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — Eric Fishe considers himself a much different man than he was just a few years ago.

Since becoming more involved in his faith, it's not only opened new doors for him, but led to him to try and do the same for those around him.

He created the Fish-Abled Foundation in 2012 to help give people with disabilities to get out of the house and have fun.

The idea stems from a fishing trip Fishe went on with a man who was visually impaired.

"He just had the time of his life and we thought we could start taking other people because I work for Paratransit," Eric Fishe said.

"We could transfer more people to the backseat of my car and it continued to lead into something bigger."

The Fish-Abled Foundation now plans monthly outings for its members.

The events have been anything from a trip to the bowling alley to a trip to Wrigley Field for a Chicago Cubs baseball game.

Fish-Abled works with other organizations in the community as well, partnering with parents of the Center of Hope for a holiday party at Harlem Middle School.

Regardless of the venue or activity, the foundation is focused on creating a bond between the people that go on the trips.

"We have these monthly outings where we can have these social activities and get together. It's like a monthly family reunion with everybody," Eric Fishe said.

Eric's wife Jennifer is also heavily involved in the organization, helping with coordinating and decorating for the events

She is playing a bigger role now that her kids are a bit older and considers the members of Fishe-Abled an extension of her own family.

"The people that my husband brings in. I get to know them and I consider them my family. I truly love each and every participant that comes into our events," Jennifer Fishe said.

Family is the main theme of the Fish-Abled Foundation and one that is felt strongly by many of its members.

It's allowed people with disabilities to feel more comfortable in the city they live in.

"A lot of people don't know about Fish-Abled, and it's opening eyes in the community and changing the way they see us and we become better people because of it," Fish-Abled member Lenny Mabry said.

It's not just a change of perspective for the community.

Those who are a part of the organization feel a change in themselves.

They began to have a stronger sense of belonging as the bond with the non-profit group grows stronger.

"When my mom passed away, it was very hard for me. Without the Fish--Abled Foundation, I don't know where I would be right now. It's very special for me to be a part of it," Mario Crayton said.

While Fishe started the foundation and loves seeing its success, he doesn't take credit for anything that has happened.

For him, everything goes back to his trust in God.

I surrendered my life to the lord. When that door opened, I started to become less self-centered of a person. I started to see there was a need and started to have more compassion for the people around me," Eric Fishe said.

"We're trying to draw people in through love and kindness and it's been very effective."

The Fish-Abled Foundation just had its annual Tour de Frost, inviting people on a 20 mile bike ride to raise awareness and funds for the foundation.

To learn more about the Foundation and check in on upcoming events, click here.

Evan Leake

Evan Leake anchors for 13 News Today and 13 News at Noon. Evan grew up in Darien, Illinois, a south-west suburb of Chicago. He came to WREX in 2017 and worked his way to the anchor desk in May of 2019. He coordinates both the Teacher of the Week and Inspiring 815 series for 13 News. You can connect with Evan at eleake@wrex.com or Evan Leake on Facebook.

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