By Dirk Marks, CLWA C.A.S.T. for Kids is back, and that’s a very good thing, judging by the smiles on the faces of the ninety special needs and disadvantaged children, families and volunteers who participated in a day of boating and fishing Saturday, October 7 at Castaic Lake. “What a thrill it was for all of us who were involved, to see the excitement of these children, some of whom had never been on a boat before, or had never been fishing,” said Matt Stone, general manager of the Castaic Lake Water Agency, which hosted the event in cooperation with the California Department of Water Resources, the nonprofit C.A.S.T. Foundation and numerous other local sponsors. “It was our privilege to be able to help these children enjoy this special day at the lake.” C.A.S.T. for Kids (castforkids.org) stands for “Catch a Special Thrill,” and the event is open to special needs and disadvantaged children ages 6-17. The event pairs the children with experienced volunteer boater guides who take the children and their caretakers out on the lake for a memorable day of boating and fishing. The C.A.S.T. Foundation is the largest fishing charity in the country, serving children with special needs and military personnel. Since its founding in 1991, the organization has matched more than 25,000 special needs children with volunteers for a day of fishing. CLWA first became involved with the event in 2006, but it was placed on hiatus after 2013 due to the severe drought that dramatically reduced water levels at the lake. Thanks to a wet 2016-17 rainy season, the water is back — and so are the fish, and the kids to catch them. Several CLWA staffers and board members participated in the event, and echoed the sentiment that the reactions of the children made it a unique and special day. “It’s easy to take outdoor experiences for granted when you have the opportunity to enjoy them regularly,” said CLWA Board President Robert DiPrimio. “C.A.S.T. for kids reminded us all that there are children for whom this one day of fishing was a new, fresh and exciting experience that will build a lifetime memory.” CLWA Board Vice President Gary R. Martin noted that many of the participants live in urban environments, where a day on the lake is anything but routine. “If you watched these kids climbing aboard a boat for the first time, filled with anticipation and wonder, and then coming back with their first fish and a mile-wide grin, you couldn’t help but smile yourself,” Martin said. “It made me proud that CLWA’s team could play our part to make this day possible.” Sponsors of the event included: CLWA, City of Santa Clarita, Castaic Boat & Ski Club, County of Los Angeles California, Friends of Castaic Lake, Gallion’s Corner Market, Castaic Lions Club, Pacific Mobile Structures, County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation, The Friends of Castaic Lake, California Department of Water Resources, California Department of Fish and Game, California State Parks, California Department of Boating and Waterways, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Academy Sports + Outdoors, Zebco, Take Me Fishing and Plano Tackle Systems.