Lakecaster Online

5th Annual CAST event brings the Community together for a day of fun at Ebeneezer Park
By Patty Lenderman

There are some things in life that a price tag cannot be put on. When it comes to kids, and especially disabled and disadvantaged children, giving them an opportunity to have a day of fun, joy and new experiences, it is priceless. CAST, which stands for "Catch A Special Thrill", is a nationwide organization that organizes events for these challenged children with a variety of activities that for just one day they can forget their medical problems, mental and physical challenges and just have fun. Several areas were represented, including Jasper, Newton, Tyler and Sabine counties.

There are 47 events throughout the country, but ever since the organization came to East Texas five years ago, this has been the largest CAST event spot in the country each year. In other events, they are designed to accommodate 35 children largely due to the resources available in those areas. Art Pasley, director of CAST met with Mike Taylor of The Stump Restaurant to begin organizing the event here. It was quickly decided that here in East Texas, no child would be left out due to size restrictions and they began contacting businesses and individuals to put together a wide variety of activities for these kids. This year, there were 88 special needs children, about 300 parents and siblings, plus over 50 volunteers that made this special day on May 14th at Ebeneezer Park.

There was horseback riding provided by Wallace's Saddle up, who also provided specially built saddles so that even a quadriplegic person could ride. These horses love all the attention they get from these kids who also enjoyed painting on them! Harvest Way Church brought their crew and entertained the crowd with skits and face painting, while Texas Parks & Wildlife brought the catfish tank, rods, and bait so the kids could catch all those feisty catfish. Just Archery brought bows, arrows and targets so the kids could learn to shoot a bow & arrow. Jasper Farm & Ranch supplied tractors, flatbed trailers and hay for the hay rides. The Corps of Engineers and Jasper Emergency Response taught boat and water safety. Captain Terry Walters took the kids out on Pontoon rides. The Stump Restaurant, HEB, Sisco Foods and Tamales Restaurant provided meals and drinks for everyone to enjoy. The Jasper ISD Football players and cheerleaders were on hand to assist in every department. The laughter, joy, and giggles echoed through the forested park as each group visited each and every station. There was a Wall of Shame display from Operation Game Thief so the kids could learn about animals, hunting and poaching.

For the past two years, Steve and Rhonda Mays has stepped forward as local directors and has done a fantastic job organizing and coordinating the event with the help of their assistant Lisa Gilley. "Art Pasley needed some help" Steve began. "We've been involved with the event ever since it began here, and when he asked for a local director it just seemed like the right thing to do. There's nothing like being involved with a charity organization that you can actually see the difference that is made in the lives of these kids. We would like to thank everyone who has helped make this happen. It takes a lot of people working together to make an event like this happen every year." Mike Taylor added "People from all over the City of Jasper and surrounding communities have constantly worked with us to make this happen. As long as these kids keep coming, and we are able to do something really good for them, we'll keep it up. It's really nice to be able to do something for somebody else."

Kelley Jones, Sr of Pro Inspect out of LaPort, TX has also been a huge contributor since the beginning. "I saw these kids, with their special needs, and I have this Company, giving me the opportunity to do something really good. I just had to give back and help these kids with one special day each year that they can put their cares and difficulties aside and just be kids and have fun. We moved up here on a weekend basis about 6 years ago, but I live and work in Houston. Here I have met the greatest friends and neighbors in East Texas. I love coming out here and participating in the CAST event. We're the greatest country in the world, even if we're not perfect. Think about all of the families and troops working overseas fo our country. Without them we would not be able to do the things we do today, like coming together and doing this for these kids and seeing all the joy, smiles and laughter that it brings - to all of us."

There are so many people and organizations in our community to thank and recognize for their help and participation. Some of them include: Texas Parks & Wildlife - Harvest Way Church - Rayburn & Jasper VFD - The Stump Restauraunt - Brent & Heidi Meaux at State Farm Insurance - US Army Corps of Engineers - Stay Close Interior Decorating - Captain Terry Walters - HEB - KJAS Radio - Jasper ISD Cheerleaders & Football players - Kinnear Motors - The Dam Liquor Store - Jerry's Auto Collision - Advanced Home Health Care - Operation Game Thief - Just Archery - Wallace's Saddle Up - Kelley Jones Sr of Pro Inspect - Sisco Foods - Rayburn Country - Tamales - Jasper Farm & Ranch - Gold Star EMS - Mrs Loopy - Umphrey Family Pavilion - Jasper Emergency Response - Volunteers, Families & Kids

Horse Painting

< photos by Cheryl Johnson >


Horse Riding

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