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'Take a Warrior Fishing' program comes home to Renton
For Jim Owens, there’s always been something special about getting out on the lake with a rod and reel and casting one’s cares away.
“It’s a therapeutic thing, really,” he said.
Nearly 23 years ago, Owens started C.A.S.T. (Catch A Special Thrill) For Kids, a group that takes disabled and special-needs kids out for a day fishing, so they can experience the thrill of reeling in a fish and the quiet of a day on the water.
“I’ve seen the magic of what it does for kids,” he said, adding that it gets them out of their normal life and routine and lets them experience something new. “It’s amazing when they hook a fish. The reaction is incredible.”
But with his son-in-law serving his ninth deployment with a US Army Ranger unit based out of Fort Benning, Ga., Owens said he began to try and think of a way to do something for those who served, especially those who were injured.
“I just wanted to give something back to these guys,” he said.
Going with what he knows, two years ago Owens created the Take a Warrior Fishing program after hearing his daughter and son-in-law talk about the difficulties of re-adjusting to civilian life after being deployed in a war zone.
This weekend, he brings the program home to Renton for the first time and approximately 35 wounded veterans and their families are expected at Gene Coulon Park to do a little fishing.
“All of these are Wounded Warriors,” he said of the vets headed to Lake Washington on Saturday. “It’s our way to say ‘thank you’ for what you’ve done for us.”
Local boat owners will be on hand to take the veterans and their families out on the water and offer some tips.
Owens said many of the veterans are in transition, coming back from deployment and trying to adapt to civilian life. Owens said it can be a difficult road sometimes to try and find one’s way back from the difficulties of war and he just wants to help.
“Fishing is the one thing I can offer to help them with that,” he said.
Many of the vets have post traumatic stress disorder, he said, and fishing seems to really help them relax and focus. Owens, whose organization has grown to host these events all over the country, said one veteran from Virginia told him the only time he feels sane is when he is fishing.
Owens said he also hopes the day provides an opportunity for the veterans to spend some time with their families, from whom they have also been away while at war and who also have their own stresses and issues.
“If someone from your family is in the Army, everyone is in the Army,” he said.
Owens said his group is always looking for volunteers, especially those with boats. For more information, visit castforkids.org or call Jim Owens at 425-251-3214.