The C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation enriches the lives of children with special needs, supports their families, and strengthens communities through the sport of fishing.

We empower families and communities to celebrate children with special needs, making these children feel valued and loved so they can overcome limitations and be successful.

The C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation (C.A.S.T. = Catch A Special Thrill) is a public charity that was formed in 1991 to join volunteers who love to fish with children who have special needs and disadvantages for a day of fishing in the outdoors. The Foundation became an official 501(c)3 in 1994 and currently hosts C.A.S.T. for Kids events.

C.A.S.T. for Kids Program Children with special needs (ages 6-18) and their caretakers come together with community volunteers for a fun day of fishing they may not otherwise experience. These events provide a refreshing break from their daily challenges. Spreading a positive message that kids with disabilities can accomplish anything, we include all children, despite their limitations. This is all made possible through national and local sponsors-people who want to make a big difference in the lives of kids with special needs thus strengthening their community.

 

Financials & Annual Report

Current 990

Annual Report

 

 

Our Board of Directors

Meet our  Board of Directors who govern the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation, representing numerous interests and are committed to supporting the continuance of our mission.

 

The C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation Staff

Executive Director

Jay Yelas

2755 Commercial St. SE, Suite 101
Salem, OR 97302
(541) 992-0441

Email Jay

After serving the CAST for Kids Foundation for 10 years on the Board of Directors, Jay Yelas took over as Executive Director in 2015. “My passion for people and for sharing the great sport of fishing with others, especially with children, is why I love C.A.S.T. for Kids. Amazing things happen at our events when so many good-hearted people volunteer to pour their love out on these children.”

Yelas is a familiar name on the professional bass fishing tour. His notable accomplishments include winning the 2002 Bassmaster Classic, the 2003 B.A.S.S Angler of the Year and the 2002 and 2007 FLW Angler of the Year. Additionally, Yelas won a 2003 ESPN ESPY award in the Best Outdoor Athlete category. In 2020, he was inducted into the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. After 35 years of professional fishing, Yelas retired to serve the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation full time in 2022.

Jay has been married to Jill for 30 years, their two daughters Hannah and Bethany are college graduates, and they have one grandson Tyler.​

 

Managing Director

Rebecca Mabe

2755 Commercial St. SE, Suite 101
Salem, OR 97302
(541) 992-0441

Email Rebecca

Rebecca joined the C.A.S.T for Kids Foundation in 2020 and loves being a part of the mission of enriching the lives of children with special needs through the sport of fishing. “It is an honor to serve this foundation. We have an incredible mission that allows us to bring people together from all walks of life in communities across the nation. Fishing brings people together, and the joy that radiates from these special children and their families is life-changing. To play a small role in creating an event to celebrate them is a gift.”

Rebecca is married to Jason, and their daughter, Jailyn, is a junior in college. She is excited to help grow C.A.S.T. to reach as many children as possible across the country.

 

Program Events Director

Jim Behnken

2755 Commercial St. SE, Suite 101
Salem, OR 97302
(210) 414-8048

Email Jim

Jim, who resides in New Braunfels, Texas is our Program Events Director and our Texas Regional Director. He has been involved with the Foundation since 2001, first as a volunteer boater, and since 2004 the coordinator for the Lake Calaveras event. Behnken owned his own business in San Antonio for 25 years and has worked 6 years as a bass guide on Falcon Lake, as well as Sugar Lake, and Las Blancas Lakes in Mexico. Behnken, who is a widower, has two daughters, Julie and Jessica, both grown and out in the working world now. He is also a proud grandfather.

Behnken says “Working with children with special needs is a dream come true opportunity for me. I love working with not only the children but also the wonderful coordinators who dedicate their time to doing something amazing for these children. I look forward to helping our C.A.S.T. team put many more smiles on the faces of deserving individuals.”

 

Eastern Regional Director

Jeff Barnes

2755 Commercial St. SE, Suite 101
Salem, OR 97302
(256) 310-4323

Email Jeff

Jeff resides in Albertville, Alabama and has been the Eastern Regional Director for the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation since 2015.  A lifelong fisherman, Jeff really enjoys sharing and helping special needs children as well as active duty and veteran warriors how fun a day of boating and fishing can be.  “It’s great to see the volunteer’s reaction when the kids get excited.  These events truly touch everyone involved”.  Jeff looks forward to helping others put on these great events all across the country.

Jeff has been married 26 years (Kelly) and has a daughter (Lauren) age 18.  “I encourage everyone to volunteer at an event or better yet help start your own event, there are plenty of special kids and special warriors who would love to experience the thrill of catching a fish”.

 

Regional Director – Arkansas and Oklahoma

Tilly Davis

2755 Commercial St. SE, Suite 101
Salem, OR 97302
(870) 867-7901

Email Tilly

Tilly resides in Arkansas and is our Regional Director for the states of Arkansas and Oklahoma. She has been married to Mark Davis for 35 years and has successfully homeschooled and raised three boys James, Fisher, and Hunter all while traveling and supporting her husband’s career as a professional fisherman.

A love for photography caused her to own and operate a studio in her small home town. Having recently sold her studio, Tilly is looking forward to using her new found time and energy to help create positive experiences for children with special needs through fishing.

 

Operations Manager

Amy Gable

2755 Commercial St SE, Suite 101
Salem, OR 97302

Email Amy

Amy was raised on the Wild & Scenic Delaware River. She has been recreating and working in, around and on the water for 20+ years. From fishing and hunting alongside her father as a child to managing river trips for over 10 years then later entering the fishing industry in 2015, she knows how profound being a part of creating special memories for others really is. With a passion for responsible outdoor recreation, meshing personal and career ambitions has allowed her to create positive, meaningful impacts while spreading inspiration. She likes to be available in PA for any children that need assistance on mentored youth day and/or opening day of trout season.

She considers joining C.A.S.T to be “an especially significant honor to serve children, their families and their communities. I hold great respect in being part of a team to further propel the C.A.S.T for Kids Foundation’s mission.”

If she’s not working, she’s out tending to the lawn, kayaking, exploring, trying to grow indoor plants, plowing snow, camping, cartwheeling, improving on her non-verbal communication skill sets, or simply enjoying the river.

Operations Manager – Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas

Jessica Behnken

2755 Commercial St SE, Suite 101
Salem, OR 97302

Email Jessica

Jessica resides in New Braunfels, TX where she lives with her miniature dachshund, Reginald. Jessica’s been volunteering with C.A.S.T since she was 10 years old. Her favorite part about C.A.S.T is watching a child catch their first fish. “I love seeing all the volunteers, parents and participants cheer when a child is reeling in their first fish. The joy on their faces is what has kept me coming back for the past 20 years. There is nothing like it!”

Growing up, Jessica regularly went fishing with her father, Jim, who is a Regional Director with C.A.S.T. She and her dad would regularly fish tournaments together and were the only Father/Daughter team of that association. She has many fond memories of fishing as a child, and she’s thrilled to be able to give back and help others create those same kinds of memories through the sport of fishing at C.A.S.T for Kids events!

 

 

History In Brief


1992 – First C.A.S.T. event held at Banks Lake in Eastern Washington in partnership with the Bureau of Reclamation

1993 – Events were added in Eastern and Western Washington, and Idaho.

1994 – C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation established as a 501(c)3.

1996 – Bureau of Land Management becomes a partner with C.A.S.T. for Kids.

1998 – U.S. Army Corp of Engineers becomes a partner.

1999 – Number of events hits 25 ranging from Washington to Florida. C.A.S.T. opens the corporate office in Renton, Washington.

2002 – C.A.S.T. hosts 32 events in 18 states. Professional Anglers Association becomes a partner.

2003 – C.A.S.T. hosts 35 fishing events in 20 states. C.A.S.T. is accepted as a National Combined Fund Drive member through Children’s Charities of America.

2005 – C.A.S.T hosts 37 events. California Departments of Water Resources, Fish & Game, Parks & Recreation, and Boating & Waterways become newest official partners.

2008 – C.A.S.T. hosts 53 events in 23 states, adding new events in Washington D.C. & Pennsylvania.
The Foundation receives grant support from the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation. C.A.S.T. partners with University of Washington Sociology Department to establish a comprehensive program evaluation.

2009 –C.A.S.T. hosts 54 events in 22 states, adding events in New York and Wisconsin. The Foundation hosts events in conjunction with the FLW Tournament Series and the Professional Anglers Association.

2011 – C.A.S.T. launches the Take a Warrior Fishing program, hosting its first event at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state.

2015 – Jim Owens, Founder, and Executive Director Retires after 24 years. Jay Yelas named new Executive Director.

2017 – C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation is growing! We held 64 events; the most in the history of the Foundation.

2019 –  C.A.S.T. continues growing, we held 75 events in 23 states, a record high!

2020 – C.AS.T. partners with B.A.S.S. on the inaugural C.A.S.T. for Kids B.A.S.S. Humanitarian Award, presented on stage at the 2020 Bassmaster Classic.

2021 – C.A.S.T. celebrates 30 years of creating fishing memories across the nation.

2023 – The growth continues, C.A.S.T. holds 94 events nationwide, an all-time high.