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C.A.S.T. for Kids held in Castaic

Forty disabled children participate

Posted: October 4, 2008 8:35 p.m.
Updated: December 5, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Will Giliano, from Oceanside, helps 4-year-old Nathan Thomas, from Castaic, fish Saturday morning at Castaic Lake for the C.A.S.T. for Kids event.

Volunteers and parents can all attest to the far reaching effects of the CAST for Kids event hosted at Castaic Lake on Saturday.

“C.A.S.T. for Kids is a national, non-profit organization that works with local governmental agencies, organizations, and businesses, to stage outdoor fishing events for disabled and disadvantaged youth ranging in age from 7 to 14,” said Kathy Simmons, outreach and water education coordinator.

In the morning hours, the dock was filled with welcoming volunteers in red shirts who were more than thrilled to help 40 disabled children and their parents prepare for their fishing excursions. Many said the most rewarding part of their day was seeing the kids come off the boats with big smiles on their faces.
“C.A.S.T. stands for catch a special thrill, and hopefully they do catch a thrill, a fish,” said Linda Showalter, an event organizer.

As Jonathan Seibert entered the dock from his fishing trip, his grin was large and his energy was high.
“Yeah, big,” he exclaimed after his mother, Stephanie Seibert, asked him if he caught a fish.
He was born at six months and only a pound and a-half at birth, said Seibert. “The doctors said he wouldn’t ever talk or walk.”

Each child is paired up with an experienced fisherman and his boat. The fishermen, who all lend their help and equipment voluntarily, give the kids fishing lessons, said Showalter.

“It was awesome,” said Joseph Larson, an 18 year-old student who was Jonathan’s volunteer buddy on the fishing boat. “He was laughing and enjoying it. He was asking questions about the dam. He not only had fun fishing, he was learning too.”

“It was fun for him, but it was fun for us, too,” said Larson. His comment echoed the attitude of the other volunteers. 

“It’s fun and rewarding,” said Cindy Brady, a Castaic volunteer who helped make participation certificates for the kids.

Volunteer organizations and agencies helping with the event included California Departments of Fish & Game, Boating and Waterways and Parks & Recreation, the Los Angeles Parks and Recreation, Castaic Lake Water Agency, and the Friends of Castaic Lake.

“There are a lot of volunteers this year and people doing whatever needs to be done,” said John Petroski, a volunteer with Friends of Castaic Lake.

At noon volunteers and event coordinators provided the children and their families with free barbequed lunch, games, and special guests appearances by Foghorn Leghorn and Yosemite Sam from Magic Mountain.

Nine-year-old Larry Baker celebrated his caught fish with his family at the picnic tables.

We made a connection with the boat owner and we’re going to go fishing again, said Larry’s mother, Sandra Baker. It was very nice and a good first time experience, she said.

Then you’ll see the parent and that look on their face when they know someone has done something for their kid, said C.A.S.T. executive director and founder Jim Owens who has a background is bass fishing.

Owens said he started the program 17 years ago because he feels it’s important that disadvantaged and disabled children get the chance to go fishing, an opportunity they might not usually have.

It’s heartwarming and it gives me such a sense of satisfaction that it’s hard to explain, he said.


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