By Jeff Rebitski

Staff Writer

Liam Winters was seriously injured in a boating accident, and the upcoming Ice Fishing Derby will benefit his family as they deal with medical expenses. (Submitted photo)

The 12th annual Ice Fishing Derby will be held January 13-15 at Ocean Lake Wildlife Habitat Management area, just a mile or so west of the Midvale Store. The event has, for years, supported local families in the support of loved ones in crisis as they recover from accidents or illness. The difference this year is in the management of the event. New owners of the Midvale store, Jack and Elain Lackey, are new to the area and have taken the Midvale Store to a new level, but are firmly committed to the fishing derby and the community it serves.  

This year’s event is being held to benefit a young man who attends Riverton Middle School. Liam Winters was out at Tough Creek Campground on Boysen Reservoir, boating with his local church group. It was the perfect day to go out to the lake and Liam and his brother Kaelem had been waiting all summer to go boating together. They were both on the boat pulling a tube and Liam was helping make sure the tow rope did not get in the propeller. Somehow by a complete accident, the extra rope on the boat got wrapped around Liam’s foot resulting in the foot being severed at the arch. 

(Submitted photo)

The subsequent journey from then until now has been a journey of faith and finances as the family has endured the exorbitant costs of surgeries and therapy to get Liam where he is today. Liam has always been a very active boy. He loves to play football, basketball, track and field, frisbee golf, and most importantly baseball! He loves playing with his three brothers, cousins, and dogs. Liam is 12 years old and is in the seventh grade at Riverton Middle School. A few of his favorite things are family, friends, church, and sports. In summer 2022, he had just finished his last year of Little League baseball and was looking forward to continuing baseball with the Riverton Raiders the next year. He was so excited he was finally going to be able to play football in middle school for the first time. Liam loves school and tries to never miss a day. He has always been a social butterfly and loves being around his friends. 

Liam Winters, who was injured in a boating accident, is a skilled young athlete, and looks forward to being fitted with a prosthetic at Shriners Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.  (Submitted photo)

Next up for Liam is a trip to Shriners Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, to get a prosthetic foot. This will allow him to be able to walk better, run and jump and even return to the diamond. Liam will tell you that he is thankful for this trial and who it has made him become. Liam has set a goal for himself and that is to once again play the sports that he loves so much. His long-term goal is to perhaps someday become a physical therapist and help others like him to overcome physical adversity in their lives. He is inspired by those who have helped him with his difficulties. 

The derby will begin at noon on January 13 and the last weigh-in will be at 10:00 on Sunday, January 15. All Wyoming Game and Fish rules and regulations will apply during the derby and anyone caught in violation will be disqualified. 

Midvale Store is still accepting entries and donations including silent auction items to be auctioned after the derby on Sunday afternoon. The chili cookoff kicks off at 1 p.m.  on Sunday and during that time, awards for the largest walleye, ling, and perch will be given. There will also be a prize for the largest sucker or carp. 

The event is a great chance to enjoy God’s country and provide a life-changing opportunity to a young man who is prepped and ready to make this community proud as he puts the struggles behind him and focuses on the man he wants to become. Please contact Midvale Store with questions at 307-856-9911.