LONDON – The Harlan County Hooked On Fishing-Not On Drugs program has been named a recipient of Operation UNITE’s “Rising Above” Award for inspiring leadership, purpose and passion in the region.

The award was presented by Gil Kerlikowske, White House Director for Drug Policy, and Fifth District Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers during a celebration dinner at the London Community Center Wednesday, February 23.

“Eastern Kentucky is home to beautiful mountains, lakes and streams,” said Karen Kelly, director of UNITE. “We believe using the outdoors while teaching kids the importance of making positive choices for their future is a win-win for all of us.”

Early on, UNITE partnered with the Future Fisherman Foundation to bring the Hooked on Fishing-Not on Drugs program to our region. For the past four years, Harlan County UNITE volunteers have brought kids that need positive role models and activities to Martin’s Fork Lake from April through October.

“Over 150 youth have participated, with nearly a dozen volunteers and numerous local sponsors enabling this program to flourish as one of the premier HOFNOD programs in our region,” Kelly noted, praising program leaders Thomas and Joyce Heck.

Accepting the award on their behalf was Harlan County UNITE Chair Janet White.