Cabela’s helps Bickfords move forward

After the loss of his family’s home, Green Bank Elementary-Middle School student Jake Bickford turned to his Bass Pro Shops catalog to dream about future fishing adventures. Last Monday, Jake got one step closer to those dreams with a donation of fishing supplies from Cabela’s in Charleston. Along with equipment for Jake, Cabela’s also donated gear for his sister, Marley, a large freezer and a Kroger gift card for the family. Posing with the equipment are, from left: GBEMS guidance counselor Ira Brown, Jake, and Cabela’s crew Christina Counts, Tyler Wylie, Neil Depugh and Jon Dent. Photo courtesy of Ira Brown

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

The Bickford family, of Clover Lick, tragically lost their home to a fire January 29. The family safely escaped the fire, but lost all their belongings and were displaced.

Neighbors and friends quickly came to the aid of the family and provided shelter, clothes and food. The family – Pete, Alycia, Jake and Marley – began to put the pieces back together to try to return to a normal life.

Jake and Marley are both students at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, where they were watched over by fellow students and staff. Guidance counselor Ira Brown met with Jake, a sixth grader, each morning to see how he was getting along and to give him an opportunity to just talk.

“He came to school on Thursday, and I met with him first period, making sure his needs were being met – food, clothing, shelter – and then I just kind of gave him a chance to verbalize what’s going on,” Brown said.

Each time Jake came to Brown’s office, he had a Bass Pro Shops catalog with him, which he said helped keep his mind off things.

“He said, ‘I’ve got to get a fishing pole,’” Brown recalled. “He said, ‘I lost my fishing pole, my good fishing pole.’ Jake is an avid fisherman. We talked about fishing, and he shared stories about his grandpa and things like that.”

Brown asked Jake what he would like to have and Jake immediately turned to a page in the catalog and pointed to the spinner he wanted.

Brown hatched an idea and decided he was going to go to Cabela’s in Charleston to buy Jake the spinner and a new fishing pole. But first, he made a call, remembering that Pocahontas County High School alum Tyler Wylie was a manager at there.

Wylie passed the information on to the store manager and they talked about what the store could do for the family.

“I got there, and I picked out the pole and the reel and had the reel spooled,” Brown said. “I was going to pay for it, and they said, ‘No don’t worry about it; this is free.’ Next thing you know, Neal, the store manager, came over and said, ‘Mr. Brown, is it a possibility that we could deliver this stuff to him?’”

Despite the three-hour drive, store manager Neal Depugh and a few other members of the Cabela’s staff, including Wylie, traveled to GBEMS last Monday to deliver not only a pole and spinner to Jake, but also some clothes. They also included a pole and clothing for his sister, Marley.

Along with all the fishing supplies and clothes, Cabela’s also donated a large freezer and a $250 Kroger gift card to the family.

The Bickfords were touch-ed by the kindness and donations from Cabela’s, and Jake is excited about his new fishing equipment.

Brown said, overall, it was a great surprise and the Cabela’s crew said, “It was well worth the drive.”

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