Last weekend I had the privilege of attending a Casting for Recovery retreat for breast cancer survivors at Gaston's on the White River. There were 14 participants plus the staff. There are no words to fully express what the weekend meant to me. I spent 3 days with ladies who were total strangers on Friday, yet, when I left there Sunday afternoon, there was an unforgettable bond with this awesome group of women. We learned the basics of fly fishing to help us heal physically but there is also a mental/emotional healing aspect as well. We spent Saturday learning all about fly fishing from some top notch fly fishing instructors! We also had a couple of medical presentations that were very informative. We practiced our casting a couple of times during the day. During our free time in the afternoon, we were free to swim, learn how to tie flies, practice casting with our instructors, or just take a nap : ) Sunday was our big day!! Each participant was matched with our own personal fishing guide. These awesome guides gave up their Sunday to serve as a guide. Imagine my surprise when I was introduced to my guide and found that he is from my town, which means he not only gave up his Sunday, but also drove 3+ hours to the retreat location. His wife served as the official photographer for Sunday as well. I know of this couple because we have kids the same age who were in school together for 1st - 5th grade. Matt was an awesome guide!! He had a fly rod rigged and ready to go as soon as we got down to the river. We caught 6 rainbow trout (landed 4 and had 2 LDR's - long distance release, ha ha!) in the 3 hours we were on the river. There was nothing to compare what it was like being outfitted in waders, boots, and fishing vest and fishing in the cold river -- I am forever "hooked". After fishing we had lunch (Sunday brunch @ Gaston's - yum!) with our guides and they were presented with a t-shirt and certificate to remember the weekend. The participants of the retreat were each given an awesome fly rod and pink reel with a case. This is a special fly rod, made by Temple Fork Outfitters to benefit Casting for Recovery. We were all blown away by the generosity of so many people who made the weekend possible. We came home with not only our fly rods with pink reels, but with many flies tied by many different people, lots of gear and goodies, and most of all, lots of wonderful memories and lots of healing in many areas of our lives. I am so privileged to have had the opportunity to attend the retreat and I am so thankful that I stepped out of my "box" and spent a weekend with "strangers" who are no more. I am hoping that the reunion that is in the works for the Little Red River in the fall comes to fruition and that I am able to be there and spend more time with these awesome women, sharing and fishing. What a weekend!!
Edit: I forgot to mention that the fishing was all made possible thanks to the Corp. of Engineers who turned off the generators at Bull Shoals Lake for the morning. They have been running 24/7 since May 28 with all eight gates open. See what I mean about the generosity???
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