C.A.S.T. for Kids: Catching Fish, Winning Hearts

In a world full of seemingly endless bad news, one organization is using fishing to reach hearts: C.A.S.T. for Kids. This non-profit enriches the lives of children through fishing.

C.A.S.T. for Kids is a nonprofit organization that takes special needs children on fishing adventures. C.A.S.T. stands for Catch A Special Thrill. C.A.S.T. for Kids has been working with special needs children for 30 years. Their mission statement is:

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.

 C.A.S.T. for Kids currently hosts fishing events in the states of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington State, and West Virginia.

How to Join In On The Fun

The C.A.S.T. for Kids operates three programs that benefit children with special needs, urban youths, and military personnel.

It is easy to find an event in any state on the C.A.S.T. for Kids website. C.A.S.T. for Kids 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 three programs.

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.

Fishing Kids Program: In 1996, it was developed to introduce and engage urban youth in the sport of fishing. The Fishing Kids Program is built around the slogan, “Getting more kids fishing, more often,” and is designed to create and provide more fishing opportunities for urban youth.

Take A Warrior Fishing Program: It was established in 2011 and is designed to support military personnel and their families, specifically targeting persons assigned to Warrior Transition Commands, by creating an adaptive community-based outdoor recreation experience through the sport of fishing. The main goals of this program are to restore that disconnect by increasing family interaction, encouraging outdoor recreation, and supporting positive, social interactions that help transitioning service members rebuild connections with the civilian world.

How to Volunteer for for Kids Programs

C.A.S.T. for Kids events are powered by volunteers at various levels of commitment, including event coordinators, shore volunteers, boat captains, and many more ways you can get involved.

Several positions open to volunteers to donate enriching and valuable time for all  the people who love fishing and love children. One C.A.S.T. for Kids volunteer quoted, “As a pro angler, the opportunity to assist youngsters in experiencing the joys of angling is rewarding and reminds me of the pure joy of fishing”, Boat Captain, California.

The volunteer positions open at C.A.S.T. for Kids require varying degrees of commitment.

Boat Captain, a boating event or a Fishing Coach, a shore event

Work one on one with kids and parents, and/or wounded warriors and their families, by sharing angling techniques. First, find the events that are in your local area by searching our event map. Then, click on the registration button or contact the Event Coordinator via email or phone.

Shore Volunteers

C.A.S.T. for Kids Shore Volunteers helps with many aspects of events such as registration check-in, set-up/break-down, serving lunch and more. Individuals and/or groups are welcome to volunteer.

Host an Event

Anyone can host an event as an event coordinator.

  • Events are hosted nationwide on any body of water using boats or from shore. 
  • Event formats include C.A.S.T. for Kids, Fishing Kids, and Take a Warrior Fishing.
  • Planning time is approximately 6 months.
  • Involves event logistical coordination, fundraising, and recruiting local community participants as both participants and volunteers.
  • If you are interested in hearing more about the details of planning an event and what it will take to host one in your community, please contact us.

Fundraising for the C.A.S.T for Kids Foundation or Event

If you can’t make it to an event or find one in your area but you still want to help, you can become a fundraiser. Share about C.A.S.T. through your network of friends and family and ask them to support you in raising money for the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation, a specific program, or event. Use Facebook to set up a birthday fundraiser or set up a fundraiser for an event in your area.

C.A.S.T. for Kids Celebrates 30 Years!

Jay Yelas, the Executive Director of C.A.S.T. for Kids, says:

“As C.A.S.T. for Kids has expanded and social media evolves, we have been touched and thrilled by the number of Facebook fundraisers people initiate for the special kids of C.A.S.T. The numerous people and event coordinators who raise funds to bring are life changing.”

Jay Yelas is a B.A.S.S. Elite Series Pro and Executive Director at C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation and operates out of Portland, Oregon. He oversees all operations, events, fundraising, and partnerships for the Foundation, which is the largest fishing charity serving special needs children and military personnel.

Jay is a touring pro angler with quite an impressive reputation. He has several accolades from the professional fishing community:

  • 2002 Bassmasters Classic Champion
  • 2003 BASS AOY
  • 2002 and 2007 FLW Tour AOY
  • 2003 ESPN ESPY award "Best Outdoor Athlete"

To find more information about the C.A.S.T for Kids Foundation, please check out its website. You will be amazed at the dedication and ambition of Jay Yelas’s inspiration and the people who help to keep Jay’s C.A.S.T for Kids Foundation going strong and growing. Start at the home page of C.A.S.T for Kids Foundation, but don’t stop there.

You are invited to read the inspirational anecdotes of how the C.A.S.T for Kids Foundation has changed young, middle-aged, and old lives. It is truly heartwarming to read the C.A.S.T for Kids Foundation mission statement through to the posts by volunteers and parents of the children it serves.


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