KEARNEYSVILLE – Justin Souders recently completed construction of an accessible fishing pier for his father, Gary Souders, and grandfather, Charles “Bill” Barber, or “Pap”, so the three of them could fish.
During the weeks-long process of building the dock, Justin said he didn’t know his wife was taking so many photos and videos – only for one of the videos to reach over 925,000 views after being placed on the TikTok app.
“I posted the video on TikTok of my husband building the dock. Within one day it started to go viral. We had a wave of comments and people were really touched,” said Maria Souders .
The dock sits on the side of the one acre pond on Justin and Maria Souders’ 11-acre property in Kearneysville.
“My grandfather and my father fished a lot together and were good fishing partners for many years. My father had two strokes three years ago and my mother was taking care of my grandfather, who has dementia. When my dad had the stroke, she couldn’t take care of both. My grandfather moved in with us. Since then my father has had two more strokes. My grandfather is 83, so neither of them are doing so well, ”said Justin.
Justin said it would have been a dangerous and almost impossible task to get them safely to the pond to fish off the shore.
Meanwhile, Justin was working with his son, who owns a construction company, to help demolish an old patio. He told his son he would help with the bridge if he could keep the wood from tearing.
“I took all the wood, resurfaced it and started building a dock on the pond so that everyone could go in and fish together,” he said. “Between my wife and I, we have seven children. I work full time and she runs a business, Gypsy Soul Catering. We are active with all of our children. They all have their own activities so it takes a while to do anything. I started to draw the plans and build the wharf. It took me about three weeks for a few hours a day at night.
For the first video of the three in total, Justin said he didn’t know his wife was documenting the project for TikTok.
“When I got home from work one day, my wife called me and said, ‘Honey, you went viral’. I didn’t know what she was talking about, but she told me she made a TikTok video. She said, “You hit 50,000 views,” then it was 75,000, ”Justin said. “I don’t have TikTok, so I started mine to follow her and see what the video was doing, and then she did the second video. As of Monday, there had been 925,000 views on the first video, over 100,000 on the second and over 60,000 on the third video, the reveal video.
Justin said his dad and grandfather loved the wharf and had enjoyed fishing as a family since it was finished.
“They seemed to like to sit on it and do some fishing again,” Souders said. “I didn’t know it was as heartwarming as it was. It was cool to be able to share this with so many people, and it continues. It is more than I expected. For me it wasn’t a big deal but it’s amazing how everyone reacted. I think really touching home for people with their grandparents and having memories of their grandparents fishing. “