Jeff with participant, Jacob Meyers, at Rock County, WI

2016 was a great year for the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation. Several new events took place in different parts of the country, along with many events that have been held for years. Attending these events and seeing firsthand the impact they can have on the children, their parents and the volunteers has truly been a blessing. I have been asked to select my most favorite or special moment from the events that I attended in 2016 and after reflecting back on all of them, I realized that it was going to be very difficult to select just one; there were just too many! I would like to try and describe some of the very special moments that I have been very fortunate to witness at events this past year.

I have seen children get excited about the smallest of things; one young girl upon receiving her own tackle box, was so enamored with it she would not let go of it the whole day! During the fishing, lunch, and awards, she never let go of it, not once. Many children were fascinated with the live bait used to catch fish, playing with worms and night crawlers, crickets and minnows. Boat rides are always a hit; many children were able to feel the breeze blow through their hair and make faces at mom and dad as they cruised around the lake with their boat captains.

I have been able to witness some incredible fish catches, many of them for their first time. Some children get a serious look when reeling in a fish and some just can’t quit giggling. All around the event, the sounds of children reeling in their precious fish are highlighted with shrieks, yells, screams and crying for help and are only drowned out by the even louder sound of their parents and boat captains, shouting instructions and words of encouragement.

Once the fish are landed, the children’s emotions range from everything between “Look!” “Look!” to “Get that thing away from me”. Some love to hold and pet the fish, and I’ve seen some kids try to feed their catch and give them drinks as well. Nothing compares to the look on a child’s face when they have achieved a new accomplishment; it truly is humbling. These are the small quick snapshots that stick in my mind, and they happen many, many times at each C.A.S.T. for Kids event.

– Jeff Barnes, EasternRegional Director