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Military Kids Fishing Day Sign-Up

Mike Clifford

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I'd like to direct your attention to a very special event I'm helping to organize that may appeal to you.

We're proud to announce that Bass Pro Shops in Bolingbrook is providing rods and reels for every child attending.

The Illinois Smallmouth Alliance will be conducting a special Kids Casting Clinic as well as assisting with other activities.

Please consider giving a few hours of your time on this day.


If you know any Active Military families with kids, please pass this along.


First Annual

Operation Homefront Illinois

Marine SGT Thomas Gilbert Memorial Day of Fishing


Are you the Son, Daughter, Brother or Sister of a member of the Military? Are you between the ages of 3 and 15? Then we want you join us on August 11, 2007 at Herrick Lake in Wheaton, IL for a FREE day of Fishing and Fun from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.


Lunch, Fishing Equipment and Prizes will be provided at no charge.




Marine SGT Thomas Gilbert, from Downers Grove, IL lost his life Oct 25, 2006 while serving his country in Iraq.


This will be a day to celebrate his life and those who are serving us.


(limited to 200 Kids)


Any questions please call

Operation Homefront Illinois at



The day is sponsored by

Bass Pro Shops of Bollingbrook

The Sgt. Thomas M Gilbert Memorial Fund

Illinois Smallmouth Alliance

Forest Preserve District of DuPage County

Dennis Mckinnon's Let's Talk Wireless

Chicago Wolves Hockey





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Great news...we have a local radio station on board! They will run

public service announcements about the event and assuming they have

someone available, will do "call-ins" from the derby live on the radio.

Plus they will have their "street team" on site as well.


The station is 99.9 "We Play Anything".

Former Chicago Bear Dennis McKinnon and perhaps other surprise sports celebrities will be on hand as well.

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From the Blog of Bill Byrns, Kankakee Daily Journal:


Just this morning a couple of great ways to help kids came across my desk at The Daily Journal.


One is aimed at providing a day of fun for the children of those serving in the Armed Forces.


The Illinos Smallmouth Alliance is joining forces with Operation Homefront on Aug. 11 to provide a day of free fishing for the children or siblings of members of the Armed Forces.


The event at Herrick Lake in Wheaton is a memorial to Marine Sgt. Thomas Gilbert of Downers Grove who was killed in action on Oct 25, 2006 in Iraq.


It’s free to those 3-15 who are children or siblings of soldiers. Fishing will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. according to ISA member Mike Clifford of Bradley who is helping organize a kids casting clinic as part of the event.


Bass Pro Shops in Bolingbrook is providing free rods and reels for every child of a soldier who attends. The event is limited to 200 participants.


For more information, call Operation Homefront Illinois at (800) 825-9189.

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Fallen soldier honored with fishing day for military kids


By Samantha Nelson

Downers Grove Reporter

Thu Jul 19, 2007, 12:42 PM CDT

Downers Grove, IL -


When Marine Sgt. Thomas Gilbert was about 4 years old he caught his first fish with his grandfather at Herrick Lake in Wheaton.


Now an event in his memory is hoping to give more young children that experience and spark the same love of the outdoors that Gilbert had.

On the Web

For more information or to register, visit operationhomefront.net/illinois.


“Tom was just an awesome fisherman after that,” said his father and Downers Grove resident Michael Gilbert. “He was an awesome outdoorsman. He’s the kind of guy who would like to go out with a tent and just camp for two days. No food, he’d just find everything.”


A graduate of Downers Grove North High School, Tom was killed Oct. 25 while fighting insurgents in the Anbar province in Iraq. He had signed up for a second tour of duty earlier that year.


His family set up the Sgt. Thomas M. Gilbert Memorial Fund to promote youth appreciation and outdoor education. From 10 to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, the fund will sponsor free fishing for about 200 children with service members in the family at Herrick Lake along with Operation Homefront, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County and the Illinois Smallmouth Alliance.


“This is really to celebrate Tom and all he sacrificed for our country and all those service members who sacrifice for us,” said Eric Schuller, president of Operation Homefront Illinois. “Their families sacrifice just as much because they’re worrying about them, so this is a way to reward them as well.”


Along with waiting for a bite on their fishing line, children will be given lunch, play games like bean bag toss, do some nature-based activities through the Forest Preserve and get to meet Dennis McKinnon from the 1985 Chicago Bears. All of the children will receive their own fishing rod, reel and tackle box, all donated by Bass Pro Shops, along with some other goodies.


“The idea is they got their taste whet for doing something in the outdoors and now they’ll have the ability to do it again themselves,” Schuller said.


It’s an idea that would have had a great appeal to his son, Gilbert said. When he was a teenager, Tom was very conscious of the fact not everyone had the same opportunities to enjoy nature as he did. Tom would sometimes take children out fishing for hours.


“If my son was alive today, he’d be running this thing,” Gilbert said. “He’d be running around with a big smile on his face showing the kids how to bait a hook and throw it in the water. It’s unfortunate in a way that we see these things after people pass away, but it’s a great way to honor him.”

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