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Casting for Hope

Fishing has always been one of America's most iconic pastimes. Calm days on the water can really alleviate a tough week. A group of students from Western North Carolina created a phenomenal project.

Held annually in April, at Rock Creek in Bakersville, North Carolina, Casting for Hope is one of the biggest and most unique fishing tournaments of the year. In recent years, Casting for Hope has lured the attention of professional fishing teams and fishing legends like Squeak Smith and Bo Cash. It is a charity fly-fishing tournament that brings together fishing enthusiasts - newbies and diehard veterans alike - from all over the nation. This is not your average fishing tournament. Proceeds from Casting for Hope benefit the Hope Crest for Women, a non-profit organization that financially helps families of female cancer patients at The Hope Center.

Taylor Sharp, a remarkable college freshman at The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, started Casting for Hope with John Zimmerman. The organization has very humble roots. When Taylor was 11, his mother lost her battle with ovarian cancer. Cancer not only affects the person with the disease, but it also impacts the family as well. Financially, treating cancer is also difficult since treatments are very expensive. Taylor experienced all of this firsthand, and he did not want anyone else to have similar struggles.

One year later, in 2011, Casting for Hope started. Taylor, John, and their team worked tirelessly for its inaugural event, and the results were evident. In 2012, the first year of the tournament, Casting for Hope raised more than $5,000 to help cancer patients and their families. And just like any change-maker, Taylor wanted to make the next year even better! In the past eight months, Casting for Hope has fundraised more than $25,000. Plans for the next fishing tournament include making the event two-days long and offering more fishing spots for other teams. 

Taylor, John, and their group have not just focused on raising money for cancer. In addition, Casting for Hope has vested the wonders of volunteerism and servant leadership to many young people in the community. For instance, at least twenty amazing volunteers from Robert L. Patton High School are present each year at the fishing tournament. Furthermore, over eighty students are involved with fundraising.

When asked about his organization and young people, Taylor said, "Many teens are unsure of their potential, but the example of myself and Casting for Hope as well as the volunteers/fundraisers that are involved are opening the eyes of many teens in my area to make the difference they can make through service and volunteering."

Casting for Hope is a remarkable organization that is powered by young people to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients and their families. Every single volunteer in the organization can have been touched through this incredible project. Amazing work, Casting for Hope! Who knew a day on the river could be so giving?