On Sept. 7 and 8, more than 50 teams from around the country will participate in Recycled Fish’s 24-Hour Fish-a-Thon, an event designed to raise awareness about problems facing our fisheries, as well as funds to address those problems.
As they fish for 24 hours, participants will bring attention to the issues on their home waters, with money raised by pledges from their supporters.
Out in California, brothers Sean (14) and Ryan (11) Gage will participate on Lake Cunningham as Team Catch & Release.
Two youngsters taking the initiative to help this great cause should be enough to solicit support for them from around the country.
But here’s something else: They both have autism.
“They had no idea what they were signing up for other than, as Sean said, they want to help,” said Ben Leal III, program director for Recycled Fish.
“Not only are these two awesome young men willing to take on the challenge of fishing for 24 hours, raising awareness for the lake they frequent, but they have autism.
“They are high-functioning, but they face the challenges surrounding it. Ryan’s Mom said that he loves to fish and that is what he wants to do with his life.”
Upon learning their story, Ben and others already have contributed to Team Catch & Release, including My Little Buddy’s Boat, an autism awareness non-profit founded by my friend Eli Delany.
His son, Luke, also has autism. Eli learned early on the therapeutic power of fishing and boating for some with autism, and that inspired the name of his organization.
“The greatest joy in my fishing career is taking my son on the (autism) spectrum fishing with me,” added Anthony Larson, a Wisconsin guide and leader of his own Fish-a-Thon team. “Seeing the calming effects of being around and on the water is paralleled by no other treatment that he’s had.”
If you’d like to donate to the Sean and Ryan’s Catch & Release team, go here.
Autism is far more prevalent than many people realize, and is the fastest growing serious developmental disability in the nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in every 88 children has autism. Symptoms vary broadly, from problems with communication and interaction to limited interests in activity and play.
One of the best things that can be done to help these children is simply to recognize the disability and then assist them according to their needs. That’s why autism awareness is so important.
You can help the cause by buying a Fishin' With a Mission decal at My Little Buddy's Boat.