SMITHVILLE, MO. -- About four months ago, 53-year-old Kenny Koval collapsed in his garage, then shortly after found out he has cancer. Doctors gave him only a few months to live, but Koval says he's got a few things he needs to do first.
And the first item on his bucket list, involved picking up his rod and reel for the first time in more than a decade.
Koval went out on Smithville Lake Thursday morning on Casey Scanlon's boat. Scanlon, from Lenexa, is a familiar face to Pro Bass Fishing fans - he just qualified for the Bassmaster Elite Series, and is headed to Wisconsin this weekend to compete.
"I'm usually fishing somewhere anyway so it's no big deal to come up and meet Kenny," says Scanlon.
A friend asked Scanlon to help Koval scratch this off his bucket list: fishing on a pro boat. Koval loved fishing since he was barely old enough to hold the rod. But he didn't have a lot of time for it the last decade or so, because he was too busy working.
"And then I found out I have brain and lung cancer," Koval says, "now I ain't doing too good."
Every cast of a fisherman's line is a statement of hope, hope that maybe this will be the big one. And right now, hope keeps Koval grounded.
"Today I'm feeling a lot better," Koval says, "feeling good since I get to go fishing."
These last few months, Koval has been spending time with family, his wife, six kids, and eleven grand kids. He says facing death makes you take another look at what's important in life. That's a lesson Scanlon takes to heart.
"You cherish every moment in life, opens your eyes to what can happen and makes you appreciate what you have," Scanlon says.
It's easy to appreciate a quiet lake, a cool breeze, but with some time and patience, Koval also get to appreciate the thrill of hooking a largemouth bass.
"The fishing is good in Smithville," Koval said, and then threw his catch back into the lake.
Koval did have to cut his fishing trip a little short, since he wasn't feeling well, but it was something he was able to cross off his bucket list.
For more information about Casey Scanlon, click here.