Lakecaster Online

CAST for Kids holds its 4th Annual Event on Sam Rayburn
By Patty Lenderman

Making a difference. That is the purpose of the C.A.S.T. for Kids organization. C.A.S.T. stands for "Catch A Special Thrill", which is exactly what happened May 15th at Ebeneezer Park on Sam Rayburn to all the kids and volunteers who attended this 4th annual event. Medically and mentally challenged children were invited from Tyler, San Augustine, Sabine, Shelby, Jasper and Newton Counties. They came in buses, cars and vans to have a day to experience new things, and have a day of fun, forgetting about the conditions that challenge them on a daily basis. The smiles from the kids were only equaled by the volunteers and workers who saw them.

It was not just a group event, but a family one as well with parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters all coming to have a great day with many different activities. The kids were put into nine colored flag groups led by the Jasper High School Cheerleaders and Football Team. From 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. every child had the opportunity to participate at every station at 40 minute intervals. Beginning with breakfast burritos and drinks served by The Stump Restaurant, Payless Shoes and Foremost Dairy, the kids then toured the park with the rest of the activities and festivities.

The Corps of Engineers taught boating safety and rescue techniques, showed the kids proper life jacket sizing and buckling, boat features such as lights, kill switch and proper safe seating. The horse back rides provided by Wallace's Saddle Up. With a variety of saddle types, including some specially designed so that even quadriplegic kids could ride, all the kids were able to mount up and have the experience, many for the first time. After riding the saddled horses, then they were able to have a "hands on" experience while they hand painted some of the other horses with their own unique designs and handprints. Winnie's Minni's were also there giving kids buggy rides throughout the park. Then there was the Game Theft trailer, where the kids could look at the animals and confiscated devices that Texas Parks and Wildlife brought to show them in the "Wall of Shame" and teach them about animal conservation. Just Archery brought bows, arrows, and plastic animal targets. The kids were so excited at their accomplishments, whether it was just for the fact that they made that arrow fly or they hit one of the targets. The Kiwanis Club brought the airwalk that many of the kids got in and bounced around, then the Harvest Church, headed by Pastors Gary and Karen Marshal provided puppet show entertainment and youth gospel singers. Texas Parks and Wildlife Inland Fisheries brought the catfish tank, rods and bait. The catfish were eagerly latching on to the end of the lines of all the young anglers. Squeals and screams followed by grins and laughter was a constant sight as these kids yelled in excitement. Several professional anglers were present as well as the Emergency Corps to take the kids on boat rides. Many had never been in a boat or out on the water and had a great time cruising across the lake. Jasper Farm and Ranch provided the hayride fun that also brought the kids to the beach area and back for their boat rides. Jasper Volunteer Fire Department brought their new fire truck to show the kids, and they had a great time touching, feeling, and climbing on the big shiny new truck and its extension ladder & bucket.

The Stump Restaurant served hamburgers, hot dogs and sausage links for lunch to everyone in attendance. Great live entertainment was provided by Pure Country band from San Augustine Park who played an array of country favorites. The grand finale show was the dancers from the Alabama Coushata Indian reservation. They came in full traditional indian dress, and with each dance taught the audience the history behind it.

The months of planning, of coordinating and putting it all together was made all worthwhile with the grins, giggles, laughter and stories that the kids were already sharing with each other from their day. Each volunteer and business that helped with this event walked away knowing that they made a positive difference in the lives of these children. "It takes lots of work to make this kind of event happen" began local directors Steve and Rhonda Mays. "It is our desire that these children are able to experience quality entertainment and experiences like other kids, in a safe environment."

The C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation wasbackground.html formed in 1991 to join volunteers who love to fish with disabled and disadvantaged children for a day of fishing in the outdoors. The C.A.S.T. for Kids event was designed to create an environment whereby both children and adults could benefit, each taking from the day their own lessons. Children and adults could leave their problems on shore and share a day of fun on the water.
Thirteen years later, C.A.S.T. for Kids continues to fulfill this purpose while realizing others:
Increasing awareness of disabled and disadvantaged children in our communities
Appreciation for natural resources
Cooperation of government agencies and local interest groups within our areas
Creating a rare and positive experience for youth
The C.A.S.T. for Kids program has not only evolved in purpose, but in scope. During each of the Foundations first four years three events were held in the states of Washington and Idaho. Since then, the total number of annual events has grown to 49 in 32 states! Each year more volunteers assist, more donors contribute and more children participate.
Four years ago, the C.A.S.T. for Kids organization came to East Texas to begin forming events in this area. Throughout the rest of the country, the events are designed to accommodate around 35 kids, mostly due to resources and volunteers available. When the idea was being proposed to local businesses and volunteers, it was quickly decided that it had to be bigger. No one would be left out. Many businesses and local volunteers were contacted and from the beginning, the event at Ebeneezer Park on Lake Sam Rayburn has been the largest in the country.
Last year, Art Pasley, Southern Region director, asked for a local volunteer to head this annual event. With a commitment to continue to make such a difference in the lives of these kids, Steve and Ronda Mays (Mays Auto Sales) of Jasper, TX quickly stepped up to be the new CAST coordinators in this area. Art Pasley continues to work with them with contacts, sponsors and event locations to carry on and make it continue to grow. "It is all about caring" stated Art.

C.A.S.T. for Kids Program Contacts:
Executive Director, Jim Owens, at (425)-251-3214 -Fax to (425)-251-3272 or e-mail to
Northern Region Director, Jeff Owens at (937)-675-2619- Fax-(937)-675-2619 or e-mail to
Southern Region Director, Art Pasley at (972)-913-2933- Fax-(972)-557-8447 or e-mail to
For information on how you can get involved as a sponsor or volunteer for next years Catch a Special Thrill event on Lake Sam Rayburn, contact Jasper, TX, Coordinators, Rhonda and Steve Mays at (409)-489-1907.

2004- CAST For Kids Sponsors; Accelerated Auto- Accucare Quality Medical- Advantage Plus Homecare- Advertising Visuals- Alabama Coushatta Tribal Dancers- Anadarko- Ann's Tackle Shop- B&B Buildings- Bonita Laundry- Brookshire Bros- Buck Springs Water- Cash Sponsors; Casting Kids- Challenged Sportsman- Christus Jasper Memorial -Dawson Marine - East Texas Electric- Dickerson Memorial Hospital- Duke Energy- East Texas Battery- East Texas Peddler- East Texas Photography Club- Eden Enterprises- Edward Jones- Elijah's- ERA Reality- First National Bank- Foremost Dairy- General Shelters- Gold Etc;- HEB- Holiday Inn Express- Jasper Farm & Ranch- Jasper/Lake Sam Rayburn of Commerce- Jasper/Newton CoOp- Jasper/Lakes Area Humane Society- Jerry's Collision Repair- Just Archery- Kiwanis of Jasper- KJAS Radio- May's Auto Sales- McDonalds Restaurants- Pampered Pets/Amerinet- Party Perfect- Payless Shoe Store (employees)- Pro Inspect- Rayburn Country Resort- Rayburn Reality- Rayburn Tackle- Ronald J. Pope- Seal, Stover, Bisby, & Morian- Sheffield Meat- State Farm Insurance- SYSCO- Temple Inland- Texas Parks & Wildlife- The Stump Restaurant Club- Wallace's Saddle Up- Wal-Mart- Weaver Brothers Motor- Whitten Trucking- Winnies Minnies- Mobil Oil- Best Western- "and" the 2004 CAST For Kids and Volunteers-

Writers note: I believe that every person born was put here for a purpose. I believe that one of the purposes for these kids is to remind the rest of us how fortunate we really are, and to put into perspective the minuscule reality of our own problems and challenges. Throughout the day spent with these children, there was not one who whined or complained. The pure undaunted joy that exuded from them brought tears to my eyes and many others that were there helping to make this a success. It was just that.

Pure Country band provided great music for everyone to enjoy

The kids loved the hayride that Jasper Farm & Ranch supplied
< photos by Patty Lenderman >

It took a lot of concentration for these young archers to hit their target

The Corps of Engineers taught the kids important boating safety topics

Watching, waiting, but not for long - the catfish were quickly taking the bait that the kids offered to them

Even the horses enjoyed the attention as these kids used them for their artistic canvas

The Emergency Corp and many professional anglers took all the kids for a boat ride, many for their first time

The Jasper High School Cheerleaders helped in many departments, including face painting

The thrill of riding a horse was available to all the kids, even those who are wheelchair bound, with specially designed saddles

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