So, I begin this article with my own exciting and heartwarming experience volunteering for Cast for Kids. I have volunteered for two Cast for Kids events in my area and look forward to volunteering for a third! I have made great friends with other Boat captains whom have volunteered their time to help make Cast a special experience for the kids and families. I can also say that I have had as much fun as the kids and families I have been paired with. In my last experience I got a young girl named Sammie, Sammie’s dad and I hit off pretty good all day and had plenty of great conversations and laughs. Sammie was pretty shy for the first 30min, but came around when she began to fish. She caught her first fish on her first cast! Just as I was explaining how to use the drop shot rig that I had tied up for her on the sweet little setup CAST provided. Now, she would not touch the fish, but I could tell she was enjoying herself. This was all very new to her and her dad. After her third fish she was smiling and having a great time, her dad took a photo of her with each fish to capture each memory. When we headed back to the marina to go to the awards dinner she absolutely enjoyed the boat ride. They had never been in a Bass Boat so she and her dad threw their hands in the air and pretended they were on a roller coaster. Sammie had such a great time that she wanted to get as many photos as she could with me and Cast had provided a great setup to make some silly photos, such a blast! Knowing that the family I took had such a great time, that I could provide them with a great story to tell their friends and a memory that can last a lifetime. That is all priceless! In the end I asked Sammie “Will you be at the next Cast event?” She began to smile and replied “Yes!” This is exactly why we volunteer for Cast for kids and it would be great if you have the time to volunteer at one near you!
Cast for Kids puts on a great event! Boat captains got great goodie bags and giveaways from CAST sponsors including River2Sea lures and decals, Trapper Hooks, Seagar Fluorocarbon line, and more. I think that the plaque you receive at the awards ceremony is a great plus because it traps the memory in a stylish way to hang on the wall at home or in your office. But best of all you have a great story you will never forget!
The lovely Renza Badilla has provided me in her own words, some great details on Cast for Kids. How it began, and what it is all about!
Cast for Kids is celebrating its 26th year this year and Congrats to Cast for Kids Executive Director Jay Yelas, whom is also celebrating his 26th year with his wife.
The Cast for Kids foundation provides the largest on the water charity for three different groups as follows
1) Wounded Warriors and Veterans,
2) Kids fishing
3) Cast for Kids, which serves the special needs community with children ages 5 to 18.
At our California Delta Event we focus on children, because these forever children lose so many resources once they turn 18, I do not restrict anyone if they want to bring their child that is slightly over 18.
California holds the largest amount of events each year. But it is the goal of the Board of Directors for the foundation to double the amount of their events, and bring events into states where we don’t currently have a CAST event.
Why is fishing such a great day for these families?
Well, fishing is the one sport where your child or family can have quick success! Some sports require you to have to practice for years to have the same gratification and success that these kids get from catching there first fish. Fishing at our event, places you in the boat of a very compassionate boater captain volunteer. These captains have fueled their tow rig and boat to volunteer at our events. Some travel hundreds of miles to participate and volunteer for a half day. When that child is loaded on their boat, or steps on the deck, you see their troubles float away. They are just captivated by their new friend the Boat Captain.
Right away, they are smiling and laughing.
These families deal with exclusion, judgement, and their resources are shrinking. While the special needs populations increase, their funding does not.
Once Jay Yelas, a Classic winner, FLW champion and US Open winner said I knew right away I wanted to host my own event. Which, anyone can do!
This event is our second year. Each year we continue to grow in both volunteers and participants. This year we had 54 families bring their child or children. 35 boat captains and over 130 shore volunteers. So that translates to a 2.8 volunteer ratio to the fishing group. At the awards celebration, we had over 4:1 ratio.
As you preview our photos you can quickly see the respite these families got while they were fishing. As we all know, and get to do, being on the water is so tranquil. The wind, the waves, and the ecology. This year so many kids saw Sea lions, Otters, Beavers and Minks. You could see in the parents faces that they were so excited to be so close to something they would otherwise never see. They were able to do this because of the generosity of the fishing and boating community.
Angelo and Simon with River2Sea enabled us to give every boat team a gift bag of decals and some ‘Bling’ and or a ‘Big Poppa’ lures.
Bill from Costa Del Mar donated two 580G to our boater raffle, Dale Hightower gave us Seagar fishing line for the boaters and we have a raffle we will be announcing soon.
We all fish as our schedule allows. Imagine if that were only once a year and only for a half day.
What do our children struggle with?
We have very young children who will be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of their lives. The obvious challenge is visible, the emotional challenges are hidden. These caregivers have a full-time job tending and caring for these children. As a parent it is your number one priority. These parents execute these tasks regardless of funding, or other care. Our families also cope with children with Down’s syndrome and Autism. Fishing is a relatable language for these children. They can focus, they can communicate and they can celebrate their success. They feel loved and they feel accepted. A safe environment where they can just be themselves.
Because Jay and I agree that each event should have a very high-quality standard, I add elements that increase the feeling of community. At our event you saw anglers taking their child to the photo booth, shooting pictures and making new memories together. I can’t imagine not having Tailspin Party Productions at our event. They bring music, laughter and a lot of funny photos for our families. Parents have already told me their photo booth pictures are proudly displayed.
Reel in your dreams and never give up. Consider being a boater captain today. It’s easy to do. Go to our webpage, find an event and signup! Sign-ups are so critical. They tell us how many children we can have appear and how much food and award plaques will be needed.
Our event success relies upon key individuals who are willing to add organizational and fundraising activities to their workload. I am very grateful for Nick. He prefers to be behind the scenes but his help puts legs on our event and makes everything possible.