For long-time coordinator, Brenda Paquette, the C.A.S.T. for Kids event is truly a family affair. Her family has been touched by autism and ADHD, so she easily identifies with the benefits of a C.A.S.T for Kids event.
The first year she attended the event at Lake Pleasant, AZ, her husband and her grandson, who is autistic went out fishing with a wonderful boat captain named Mike. Mike was such an inspiration to them both. As a result, Brenda and her husband actually purchased a boat later that week so they could enjoy more time fishing. It gave them many hours of peaceful enjoyment.
Another grandson, who has ADHD, has enjoyed going out fishing at the C.A.S.T. for Kids event for a few years. This year, he was one of the event’s volunteers that helped escort the kids through the registration line. He also loved on kids as their Otto the Otter mascot. It was heartwarming for Brenda that he wanted to give back and help others experience the joy of fishing as he had.
Her daughter, granddaughter, and daughter-in-law all help at the event in some way. They start the day long before the sun is up, but at the end of the day, they all feel very blessed that they were able to help give the 45 special kids and their families a day filled with wonderful memories.
It can be challenging to recruit volunteers that are willing to give a Saturday of their time to help with the event. But every year, the volunteers show up and pull it all together. Brenda never stops being in awe of the generosity of the boat captains and numerous volunteers.
Her favorite part of the event is the awards ceremony. She loves listening to each of the kids’ unique stories about their fishing adventures with their boat captains. They tell tall tales about the huge fish that got away and how exciting it was to drive the boat. The smiles and sparkles in their eyes as they speak is what makes the long day for Brenda worth every minute.
To commemorate the event each year, she creates a picture book from the pictures taken before, during and after the event. It’s sure fun to look back over the years and see the common thing they’ve had in each picture every year- those big smiles!
Those big smiles are on the faces of the shore volunteers, boat captains, parents and siblings, but most importantly, on our very special kids!