Monday, May 15, 2017

Cast Hope - A Victory for everyone involved

If you read this Blog and/or know me you know about Cast Hope. You have most likely heard how my friend Ryan Johnston and I have worked to create this organization from a crazy idea for Ryan’s MBA project he shared with me at the bar in Tres Hombres in Chico, CA to a full fledged non profit impacting lives and sharing the outdoors throughout Northern California and Western Nevada through the sport of fly fishing…and soon further. Many of you have sent in donations, donated time, been to a fundraiser, watched a video, shared our posts on social media, or just plain talked about it with someone else. For all that…the big, the small, the intentional, and the unintentional, we could not achieve the things we have without everyone’s support.

As Cast Hope has grown it has become an animal in and of itself…needing to be fed with time, money, and hard work. That is the blessing and curse of growth, it became a long time ago less of a hobby, or side project, for us.  Now most weeks it borders on a full time job and others it is all consuming….and to be totally honest there are just as many times where it is a huge pain in the ass as times where I get more out of it then nearly any thing I do in my life. There are times at the bar where Ryan and I hang our heads in despair and frustration, asking our selves what the hell are we doing with our lives, cast hope, and all this work we put in….How much do we have left in the tank for this thing, can we work this hard for another 10 years or hell 6 months..…then there are times when we see and feel a room full of people “get it” and I am literally brought to tears, and I look up to the sky and say I will fucking kill my selves, give away all my belongings, work until my hands bleed, and my mind is fried for this cause, for these kids, and for these people who believe in us.

I think those feelings go hand in hand with anything in ones life that means something, and that they are truly invested in. I think about my kids…many times they nearly bring me to tears with the amount of love I have for them and then like last night when they left their klean kanteens out at band practice and I had to drive back out North of town to our practice space after a REALLY long day and get them I was ready to dare I say go Homer Simpson on them. What you care about is never easy or without challenges. In the end you get what you give I believe. When you put everything into something it gives and takes everything at any given time, that is what makes it so important and meaningful.

Yesterday we had one of these moments at Cast Hope. We met Dakota over 7 years ago when he was ten years old. He is now 17 and we put him on a plane yesterday to start his guiding career at Barnof Lodge in Alaska. To say Dakota has over come a lot to get to this point is like saying climbing Mount Everest is a small afternoon hike. Many of us will never face the challenges this young man has, and will crumble under half the weight his shoulders have beared in his short time on earth. While I truly believe that we all bear our own burdens and no one person’s burden is heavier then another, but I can truly say, personally,when I look at my own life between 10years old and 17 years old I would not have made it if I was Dakota.

One of Many fish along the road...
Licensed to Guide 
I explain what Cast Hope is about to people daily. I have sat down with millionaires, corporations with check books deeper than some nations, anglers who work all week at dead end jobs to just get a few days a month on the river, guides who work daily on the river and barely make ends meet but love the life they chose, people who don’t know a fly rod from a bait caster, and everyone in between and around AND not everyone understands what we do. At this point in the game I think you either get it or you don’t….At some point I lay out the numbers, and to be honest in the non-profit world our numbers don’t blow anyone away…Ya we will put 500 kids through our program this year, we have nearly a 100% retention rate, we have given out hundreds of free fly rods, reels, and gear, our pull through is 81/19 - well above the national average and expected healthy mark for a non-profit, I can tell stories about showing kids stars without the glare of street lights for the first time, how we got a kid through high school with fishing as the motivation, brought kids from the hood and peninsula together via the sport of fly fishing….AND yes that is impressive BUT we are not Wounded Warriors, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, The National Cancer Society, or some other national corporate non-profit with a budget bigger then, certain small nations we mentioned earlier, solving the worlds problems…so people smile and get that blank stare at times and nod there head…I can’t say it doesn’t get frustrating, end in long nights at the bar, or those moments where I question my own life choices and what the hell I am doing with it….
Its been a long road my friend...

Moments like yesterday though give it all value. The long weekends, late nights, presentations where you pour your heart out to a room or conference table and all you get is blank stares…all the money on gas, time away from family, sleeping in the truck, shitty hotels, out and back flights to places, and doubt…doubting all the time if this is really worth it, if you are earning your donors money, putting it to work in a way that makes a difference,  asking your self  while your flight is delayed hours if you should just pile it all up and give it to curing cancer, are you REALLY making a difference, doing right by the people that support you, and just in the end living the life you believe in and doing what is best for the world around you….

Knowing that what I have done changed Dakota’s life gives it all meaning. I know, even though at times doubt creeps in, Dakota is not the only one I have helped via Cast Hope and I know what we do has value.  I know that Cast Hope changes lives, preserves our wild places for the future, AND is what I am meant to do with my love and passion for the outdoors and the sport of fly fishing. BUT DAMN it is nice to see it all pay off in such an amazing way! We fucking did it!!!! It is a long road for Dakota but we are off the back roads where the pot holes and obstacles are EVERYWHERE and on to the freeway now where the chances of safe arrival at our destination are a bit higher.  

Cast Hope will never be McDonalds or the Boys and Girls Club or some organization that can say we served 1 million kids this year…that is not what we are about. Even if we (hopefully when) grow throughout the nation I can’t imagine putting millions of kids through our program. I want to put thousands and know them all, be able to tell all their stories, walk them from 10 years old to 18 or 20 years old and send them off to college or to guide some where and help them start their careers and their lives. I want them to fish ounce every two weeks with a guide and their mentor, go on trips with other kids from all walks of life, learn about their local watersheds and ecosystems, and fall in love with rivers, lakes, oceans, and the lands that surround them so that they will be the ones to do what Ryan and I do with Cast Hope for their generation any way they can.  

I end every discussion or presentation I make about Cast Hope with the following quote. It means a lot to me personally and I think speaks to everything I rambled on about here….


Good Luck Buddy!!!!

“What you have done for yourself alone dies with you; what you have done for the others and world remains.”

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