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Elevator union gives kids a lift

GISELE WINTON SARVIS The Packet & Times

GISELE WINTON SARVIS/THE PACKET & TIMES
Rocky Madsen, of Jacksons Point, shows off the bass he caught at the first annual International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) Bass Tournament Saturday on lakes Simcoe and Couchiching. The IUEC donated $3,000 to the CAST for Kids Foundation, which gives disabled children a free fishing experience.

GISELE WINTON SARVIS/THE PACKET & TIMES Rocky Madsen, of Jacksons Point, shows off the bass he caught at the first annual International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) Bass Tournament Saturday on lakes Simcoe and Couchiching. The IUEC donated $3,000 to the CAST for Kids Foundation, which gives disabled children a free fishing experience.

Disabled children in the Orillia area will have an opportunity for a therapeutic fishing experience later this summer.

That’s because the first annual International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) Bass Tournament was held in Orillia Saturday and it raised $3,000 for the Catch a Special Thrill (CAST) for Kids Foundation. CAST funds one-day, free fishing excursions for children with disabilities.

“The union sponsored a portion of it and (other sponsors) made it possible (Saturday) to give CAST $3,000 at the end of the day,” said Darryl Ashby, of Durham Region, organizer and elevator mechanic with the union. “We got 30 boats and 60 guys, so it was a good turnout for the first event.”

The union includes members who have disabled children, so that’s what gave Ashby the idea to seek out a charity that provides an enriching experience.

“I know they go through struggles and I found CAST and they take out disabled kids, so I thought it was great what they do and I wanted to be part of it,” he said.

Through the Internet, Ashby found Jim Owens, founder and executive director of CAST, which is based out of Renton, Wash.

“This is the first time we’ve ever done an event in Canada, but, believe me, it won’t be the last,” Owens said Saturday afternoon as anglers brought in their catches off lakes Simcoe and Couchiching to have them weighed. “It opens up a whole new place to hold events and reach out to more children. Borders don’t matter when it comes to special-needs children. If it gives me the opportunity to take kids like this fishing, I will go halfway around the world to do it.”

Owens said he would like to expand into other areas in the next few years. CAST matches disabled and disadvantaged children between the ages of seven and 18, and their siblings, with boat-owning anglers, who volunteer their time. In 2013, 48 events were held in 19 states. This year, CAST will serve more than 2,000 children. For some children, it’s their first experience fishing or even spending a day on the water. Young anglers are educated about boating safety, angler ethics and the importance of natural resources.

CAST also offers Fishing Kids, a program to get more children engaged in on-shore fishing, and Take a Warrior Fishing, which is designed to support military families to transition back to civilian life.

“I know that there have been servicemen who have served in the Middle East that have been wounded in action. We are aware of traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder and there is proof that fishing helps all of those as a therapy,” Owens said.

Orillia Perch Festival chair Doug Bunker helped organize the event and said he was happy to help because he believes in the therapeutic value of fishing and the promotion of the sport of fishing among young people.

Fish caught in the tournament were kept alive in oxygenated tanks and returned to the water.

For more information, visit castforkids.org. Tournament results will be posted at abcangler.ca.

gisele.wintonsarvis@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @GiseleSarvis


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