One of my favorite ways to spend time with my grandchildren is by taking them fishing on the lake. The look on my grandchildren’s face when they feel the strike of a largemouth bass is something I will never get sick of. Sadly, there are so many children across the country who will never get to experience that feeling for a number of reasons. The CAST (Catch A Special Thrill) for Kids Foundation is a nonprofit that started in 1991 with the vision of pairing avid fisherman with children who have disabilities in an effort to introduce those children to the excitement of fishing. The nonprofit has since grown into three programs: CAST for Kids, Take a Warrior Fishing, and Fishing for Kids.
CAST for Kids
CAST for Kids is the flagship program of the foundation with the goal of teaching kids the basics of fishing. Events are hosted at a local body of water where participants are outfitted with a rod, t-shirt, hat, and tackle box. Each participant is then paired with an experienced volunteer and accompanied on the boat with a parent or guardian. After a morning on the lake, the participants are treated to a BBQ lunch and an awards ceremony. Along with exposing children to the sport of fishing, the program seeks to educate all participants, parents, sportsmen, and volunteers to the capabilities of children with disabilities.
Established in 1996, the Fishing Kids program is built around the slogan, “Getting more kids fishing more often.” The events are held for anywhere between 300-800 urban youth ranging in age from 5-14. Every participant receives a t-shirt and a rod & reel combo to keep. The kids are broken up into groups and fish for roughly an hour from the shore with an instructor. There are four main goals to the program:
- Provide a meaningful and enjoyable fishing opportunity to local youth
- Promote fishing as an alternative leisure activity
- Offer education elements such as angler ethics, fish identification, and water safety to local youth
- Develop skills that provide a lifelong hobby
Take a Warrior Fishing
The newest of the three programs, Take a Warrior Fishing, was established in 2011. It was developed to support military personnel, specifically those assigned to Warrior Transition Commands, and their families. Events are held annually at waterways across the United States. TWF aims to support positive social interactions with the civilian world, increase family interaction, introduce outdoor recreation as a method of therapy, and empower veterans to advocate for positive self-growth and change.
CAST is always looking for new volunteers. If you are interested in hosting an event, volunteering as an instructor, or donating in some form, you can find more information here.