Live Well. Go Fish.

By Claire Shinn

David Ruder has been a fisherman for what seems like forever. He claims that there are three stages of fishing: learning, mastering the craft and teaching others. Since beginning his endeavor in founding a nonprofit – Live Well. Go Fish. – that theory has been turned on its head. Ruder isn’t always the one teaching anymore. Instead, he’s learning all over again, but in an entirely different way.

 

Getting Their Start

The story of Live Well. Go Fish. all began last July when Ruder dropped his wife off at Nonprofit Hub for a church staff meeting. Once the meeting finished up, he came in to check the place out. The couple followed the sound of a comforting laugh, where they happened upon Randy, our Executive Director, and had a conversation about Nonprofit Hub and what it had to offer. There was a workshop centered around starting a nonprofit that same evening, and Randy invited the couple to come along.

They both agreed to join. For quite awhile, the Ruders had been wanting to help seniors, veterans and people with disabilities explore the joys of fishing and boating, but they weren’t quite sure if the idea was ready for the nonprofit world just yet. David and Katherine were at a standstill with the idea, and Nonprofit Hub came at a perfect time to help with the next steps.

Since attending the nonprofit course, David and Katherine have found themselves at the onset of an exciting new opportunity. Through Live Well. Go Fish., they’re now helping seniors, youth, veterans and people with disabilities get out of the confines of their daily lives. They provide trips to Nebraska lakes to help individuals enjoy the great outdoors, meet new friends and experience the therapeutic benefits of boating and fishing. For the past few months, they’ve been hard at work at Nonprofit Hub getting Live Well. Go Fish. up and running as a 501(c)(3) organization.

“Nonprofit Hub is a phenomenal place to work with a clear mind. Just the setting as a whole is very supportive of the Lincoln community. That’s the biggest eye-opener for me,” said Ruder. By interacting, sharing ideas and networking, he has been able to experience the components that make this coworking space so special. His character has left an irreplaceable mark of its own too.

Running into Randy last summer couldn’t have been timed any better – it kindled the spark that David and Katherine needed to stop asking whether or not they could make this happen and actually cast their lines. Since they are still a young organization, the rest is history in the making.

 

Re-Learning What’s Important

Through Live Well. Go Fish., Ruder has continued to learn from countless other unforgettable experiences. Perhaps one of the most impactful was his trip with Andy, a Purple Heart veteran. Andy’s daughter and granddaughter came along on the trip and together they spent the evening taking in the sunset, catching fish and making memories. There were jokes and smiles all around. Just one month after the trip, Andy lost his battle with heart cancer. “Everyone remembers the first fish they caught,” Ruder said. “No one will forget Andy’s last.”

Stories like those reinforce the Ruders’ choice to pursue community impact by creating a nonprofit. After spending 37 years in the corporate world, Ruder took a leap of faith into an unknown venture with the support of his wife. Now, Live Well. Go Fish.’s impact on the Ruders and the people that they serve is unmistakable. “He comes home from these trips now, and he’s just jazzed and excited and ready to charge ahead,” says Katherine. “It’s been a big confidence booster.”

In the midst of a fast-paced world, David and Katherine have tapped into something meaningful: the opportunity to slow down, take time and enjoy life with the people that you love. Even today, just like we should, they’re still learning from those opportunities.

Making the Trip

Looking at the Live Well. Go Fish. team and the people that they serve, it’s plain to see that this is no He-Man’s fishing club. Both men and women, young and old are welcome, from all walks of life. They all have something in common, though: a passion for spending unhurried time with the people that can’t get a boat out on their own.

So far, Lake Wanahoo has been the perfect fit for the majority of Live Well. Go Fish. trips. The lake is user-friendly and provides easy entry to handicap-accessible docks and bathrooms. Located in Wahoo, Nebraska – about 30 miles northwest of Lincoln – it’s just far enough to be a pleasant getaway.

Lake Wanahoo still comes with its fair share of challenges, though. That was the case with Wayne and Norvel, two Legacy Estates residents that accompanied Ruder to Lake Wanahoo. During the trip with Wayne and Norvel, the water level was causing some difficulties and Ruder was having trouble steering close enough to the dock. He wondered how he was ever going to get them into the boat.

But Wayne and Norvel, partners in crime, didn’t let a little water slow them down for a moment. “Taking these two out was like taking two eight-year-old boys out,” said Ruder. The next thing he knew, the two 90-year-olds were rolling up their pant legs and taking off their shoes.

Wayne and Norvel both took a risk getting into the boat, but they didn’t look back once and it paid off. The perseverance and courageous spirits of the people that come along on these boat trips has taught Ruder how to adapt to whatever circumstances come his way.

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