Submitted by Cast It Forward
Despite living near one of the most vibrant and beautiful lakes in North America, many Northeast Ohio residents will never venture past its shores. Richfield resident and lifetime angler Art Panfil wants to change that. Panfil has made it his mission to provide free Lake Erie fishing excursions to children, veterans, seniors and others who might not have the opportunity to do so.
“I’ve learned that participating in our great sport offers many rewarding experiences above and beyond the act of catching fish,” said Panfil. “Things like watching the sunrise on the water, seeing a bald eagle fly overhead, spending special time with friends and family, and getting to know your true self are just a few of the impactful events that can truly make a difference in your life. If we can make a difference or have a positive influence in a participant’s life by exposing them to the beauty and wonder of our great outdoors, then our mission is a success.”
Panfil worked with Cleveland State University’s legal outreach program to incorporate Cast It Forward and to achieve its status as a 501(c)(3) organization.
“We are always working to make connections with area organizations that would benefit from our program and whose participants fit our demographic,” he said.
The story behind the founding of Cast It Forward stems from a personal loss.
“We lost my father a short while back. It’s ironic because my dad wasn’t a fisherman, was afraid of the water and couldn’t even swim,” Panfil said. “What he did teach me through his actionswas the benefit of hard work and of giving of yourself.”
Panfil’s father served his country during the Korean War, donated his time to coaching baseball, volunteered at a local hospital and was involved in his church.
“Although he didn’t have much spare time, he still found ways to get involved,” Panfil explained. “There are many reasons why I started Cast It Forward, but none more profound than to honor and emulate the example my father set for me. We may not be able to change the world, but we can try to make the part that we’re in a little better for others.”
Excursions currently underway
The Cast It Forward program runs through November. Panfil will take participants out for a day of walleye fishing on Lake Erie. He has a wealth of angling experience and is no stranger to the lake, having fished its waters for over 30 years.
Additionally, Panfil is a U.S. Coast Guard certified and licensed captain and is Red Cross certified in adult and pediatric CPR, first aid and the use if automated external defibrillator. He also said his vessel meets or exceeds all required safety regulations and has passed inspection from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Fishing gear and other equipment are provided, and there is no cost to those who participate. Participants are also welcome to keep any fish caught during their trip.
If you or someone you know fits Cast It Forward’s demographic and would like to participate, contact Panfil through the organization’s website, castitforwardfishing.com. He said volunteers and those who would like to donate can get more information on the website as well. ∞