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August 1st, 2004

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10:39 pm - Felton Helps Make A Wish Come True

Felton Helps Make A Wish Come True

Local newspaper, Thursday, August 21st, 2003
Typed by
Cat, with a few typos corrected by me ;) Thank you SO much. Please note that this interview is exclusive to TF922 and Cat has given only this site permission to put it up. Just contact her or me for permission to use it if you want to.

LOUISVILLE - The fish weren’t biting much Wednesday afternoon at Louisville’s Whalen Park, but Michael and Andy Mort didn’t mind. They had already landed the catch of a lifetime.

The two young men from Liverpool spent half their afternoon fishing along the banks of the St. Lawrence River with actor Tom Felton of Harry Potter fame and his brother, Chris.

Tom and Chris, along with BBC journalist Martin James, are in the North County this week to participle in the first-ever St. Lawrence International Junior Carp Tournament. The event starts Thursday with a carp school in Waddington, followed by the tournament along the St. Lawrence River Friday and Saturday.

The Wednesday visit was thanks to the Make A Wish Foundation and the Feltons. Kathy Mort, Michael and Andy’s mother, said they were approached by the Make A Wish Foundation about providing a wish for the boys, who both have muscular dystrophy and are confined to wheelchairs. Michael is 12 years old and Andy is eight. Kathy said they weren’t aware of the genetic disorder until Michael was seven years old.

"Andrew’s wish was easy. He just wanted to go to Disney World," Kathy said. And that trip took them to California.

Michael, on the other hand, is a big Harry Potter fan who has seen the two movies "several times," according to his mother. His initial wish was to visit London to meet the cast members from the movies, as well as Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.

However, Kathy said, they found that England wasn’t very accessible for people in wheelchairs, so the trip was out of the question. That’s when Tom and Chris Felton decided to do their part.

Lathy said Don Spaulding, a friend in Liverpool. Knew Kathy Kelly of Stellar Marketing in Massena, who organized this year’s carp tournament. With that connection and a couple of phone calls later, the Mort brothers were ready to fish with the Feltons.

St. Lawrence County of Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Karen St. Hillarie said she approached Tom about signing an autograph for Michael. She said his reaction was, "All he want is an autograph? Let’s take him fishing."

It was supposed to be a surprise trip for the Mort brothers, but they were clued in before making the nearly three-hour drive from Liverpool to Louisville, according to their mother.

Michael and Andy had never fished in their life, so the experience was new for them. But the Feltons were standing by with plenty of pointers and assistance. They had brought along fishing poles supplied by Joe Babbitt of The St. Lawrence Experience in Waddington.

"He decided this was his gift to the bots to be fishermen forever," St. Hillarie explained.

As they stood on the pier the Feltons engaged everyone in conversation as they got the fishing lines ready.

Chris holed up with Michael, teaching him how to bait the hook and cast the line. Michael took the pole, arched it back and cast out into the water under the watchful eye of Chris.

"That’s good," Chris told him.

Tom took Andy under his care, and the two were side-by-side when Andy’s pole began to quiver. Tom jumped up.

"Oh, just missed it. See it go down?" he asked. "If you see it jump down, you want to lift the rod straight in the air."

They brought the line in empty and then Tom re-cast it for his new friend. "Same place," he said handing the rod to Andy. "Good luck."

Tom said he had been fishing that morning with much success. "I had a few 20-pound carp," he said.

Alas, the fish weren’t biting much that afternoon for Michael and Andy - only one small perch reeled in by Michael. The fish was immediately set free back to the river.

Soon the afternoon of sighing was over, as the Mort brother headed back to their can and prepared for the return trip to Liverpool. But they had forged a special friendship that afternoon.

"So long, Andy," Tom said. "It’s been nice teaching you. Hopefully I’ll see you again.

As for Michael and Andy Mort, they took home autographs from the Harry Potter start, new fishing rods and, most important, a lifetime of memories.

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