Shutdown hurts special-needs kids

A C.A.S.T. For Kids event; photo by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Anyone who thinks there is no real human impact caused by the government shutdown should consider what was supposed to happen from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at New Melones Lake.

C.A.S.T. for Kids is a fishing event held periodically for children with a wide range of special needs. “Catch a Special Thrill,” the acronym means.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced today that Saturday’s event has been canceled, along with other events at New Melones, which has been closed because it is a federal reservoir.

That’s just sad.

I covered a C.A.S.T. for Kids day at Lake Shasta, many years ago. I can’t find a link, unfortunately, but I remember feeling moved by what I saw. The kids had a great time, thanks to adult volunteers who supplied them with fishing poles and whatever gear they might need. The adults helped the kids onto pontoon boats which cruised around the lake for a couple of hours.

If I remember right, some of the kids did, indeed, return with trout. It didn’t really matter who caught a fish and who didn’t – they were all smiling and laughing. A barbecue lunch was waiting for them when they returned. It was a beautiful day.

Before they went home I interviewed the mother of a girl who had been using a wheelchair for most of her young life, as a result of the disease spina bifida. Her mother told me about all those days in the hospital, all of those terribly intrusive surgeries the girl had endured.

A day on the open water meant more to this girl than most of us can comprehend.

Hopefully, once sanity prevails, the bureau will reschedule the New Melones event. And we’ll get to see those smiles again.

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  • Blog Author

    Alex Breitler

    A native of Benicia, he lives in Stockton with his wife, Ann (a Record copyeditor who fixes all of his mistakes). He has been writing mostly about natural resources since 2003, first in Redding and now in Stockton. He is on the lookout for a giant ... Read Full
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