The Catch A Special Thrill (C.A.S.T.) For Kids Foundation’s inaugural event at Lake Weatherford will take place Saturday morning, with more than 30 kids and over 60 volunteers already signed up.
Weatherford’s C.A.S.T. event coordinator, Landon Martin, said he intends to make the occasion one to remember.
“Our plan is to make this inaugural event one for the record books,” Martin said.
“I was told that no C.A.S.T. for Kids event has ever met the full 40-participant capacity in its first year, but we’re going to show them how we do it here in Texas, and we’re going to max out and maybe even take a few extra just for good measure.
“After all, it’s all about these great kids and if we can find room, we’ll make it work somehow.”
Martin added that the C.A.S.T. Foundation is not just preparing for Saturday’s event, but working to establish a long-term foothold in the area.
“As for the future, you can count on this event being held here in Weatherford every summer for as long as I’ve got a special needs child that wants to attend,” he said.
“We have been actively fundraising to cover the costs of the event and will continue to do so through community donations, donated items to raffle at this year’s event and so on. Any and all funds not needed for this event will go directly to fund next year’s.”
Despite Saturday quickly approaching, the Weatherford C.A.S.T. Event Coordinator said it is not too late for prospective kids and volunteers to come out and enjoy some fun in the sun.
“We will accept registrations all the way up to the day of the event,” Martin said.
“When we reach our registered maximum number of participants of 40, we will start a waiting list in the event of a last-minute cancellation. It’s important to register online as there is important information that needs to be provided so that we know how to meet the needs of our participants as well as required waivers.
“To register as a shore volunteer or a boat captain, you [can use] the same website as the participants: www.castforkids.org/event/lakeweatherford/.
“If you [are] free on Saturday and want to volunteer, please just come out to the [Lake Weatherford] Marina and we’ll gladly put you to work for a day you will never forget.
“If for some reason a person does not have access to a computer, they can contact me by phone at 817-901-6398 and I will assist in every way possible.”
Whether by word of mouth or posting event flyers, Martin said a number of indiduals, organizations and businesses within the local community have reached out to offer their support.
“[We’ve been] working with some great people and organizations such as the WISD Special Programs Department, Special Olympics Texas, The Miracle League, Weatherford Optimist Club and the Weatherford Lions Club, as well as [using] multiple sources of social media through many, many friends who share the same passion to give these special needs kids an opportunity to shine.”
Several of these contributions will come from local fishermen and high school fishing teams.
“We have several local boaters and fishermen who have volunteered their boats as well as the fishing teams from Weatherford High School and Aledo High School,” Martin said.
“Through a local tournament, [a] fisherman and personal friend by the name of Ryan Cohlmeyer and his wife Linzzi put us in contact with some of our area’s tournament fishing teams from Tackle Depot and Fun-N-Sun Boats, who have jumped in head first and been instrumental in getting numerous boats to the event.
“These fishermen who have signed up have all been instrumental in spreading the word out our event all over the place and have hearts as big as their bass boats.”
Specifically, C.A.S.T.’s Lake Weatherford event boasts 24 boat captains and 38 shore volunteers, although Martin said he is committed to finding more ahead of Saturday.
He stressed that those interested, but hesitant or nervous about showing up can feel at ease.
“I would tell the kids and their parents, to open their minds and their eyes to what nature has available for them,” he said.
“All they need to do is take a step of faith and let this great group of very experienced fishermen give them the thrill of blasting across the water with the wind in their face and hooking into a big ol’ fish that they can tell everyone about. We will take great care of you all and will do our very best to make each one of these kids feel like superstars, from the “goodie-bags” to the fishing, this event will be a blast.
“If we have young people who may be hesitant to volunteer because they don’t know or understand what to expect or maybe they’re nervous about saying the wrong thing … I want to let anyone who may have those concerns know that deep down inside we are all exactly the same.
“These special needs kids and young adults want nothing more than to be accepted and treated just like everyone else, these kids love to laugh and joke around and do the very same things that you and I do, so I say … don’t be afraid of what you don’t know, show up for the right reasons and your heart will lead the way. I’ve always said that a big bear hug from a special needs child will melt the heart of the coldest soul.”
Saturday’s event is backed by more than 25 local businesses, organization and families.
“We’ve have had some great sponsors for sure, some of them have made financial contributions and others have given of their time in ways I could never place a value on,” he said.
“Obviously we have what could be considered major donors and others that have given smaller amounts or products of value, either way, at the end of the day every penny goes to making this event happen.
“What I can say is that all of these sponsors give to our community consistently and are always there for our kids whether special needs or maybe a little league sports team. These amazing people give what they can and for that we are forever grateful to each and every one of them. I hope everyone who reads this article will visit these businesses as customers and help pay them back for all they do for our local communities.”
Volunteers are asked to arrive at the Lake Weatherford Marina at 7 a.m. Saturday, while participants and their families are asked to show up between 8-8:30 a.m.