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The Healing Found in Fly Fishing

Many of you have experienced the healing qualities of fly fishing. Whether you need to de-stress from a challenging job or life circumstances, need the therapy of the gentle flow of water and sounds and smells of nature, or the physical strengthening of tissue and muscle following a medical procedure, fly fishing can provide so much more than a fun experience.


That was the case last weekend when we participated with Casting for Recovery for our 2nd Annual Mini Retreat for local Pikes Peak women who are survivors of breast cancer. What a rewarding, humbling  experience. Please read the retreat story below. 


This Saturday is Healing Saturday at the Covey – a day when all your purchases will benefit Project Healing Waters. Our military men and women serve faithfully and many experience wounds – emotional and physical. This organization does a magnificent job of finding ways to use fly fishing to help these men and women. Won’t you join us Saturday and give back to those who have given so much to us?



Casting for Recovery Mini Retreat Honoring Dr. Lori Cohen


Our sincere gratitude to everyone whose support enabled us to provide the 2017 Mini Retreat for El Paso County breast cancer survivors. Lives are changed forever at a CfR Retreat. The Ripple Effect remains long after the weekend ends.

Families and friends – donors and volunteers – are all impacted by the magic of CfR.



When they arrived at the Cliff House in Manitou Springs they were strangers from El Paso County. From ages 34 – 64 including an ER doc, a retired nurse and an educator of gifted children all with a breast cancer diagnosis. Some in remission and some in active treatment it didn’t take long for these women to find a common bond. They are daughters, mothers, grandmothers, sisters and spouses but most importantly they are SURVIVORS!



As our participants joined us they found the first of many gifts they would receive during our time together. Water bottles, hats and buffs and sunscreen and lip balm all generously donated by our supporters. All practical items that would be needed and used to keep our participants safe and comfortable during the weekend including the flashlights, power bars and toffee! Thank you to all of you who sent gifts for us to share with our participants during the weekend. 


Despite the dreary weather the energy in the room was positive and the sound of our participants as they made connections of common friends and activities was a joy to hear. The participants enjoyed light snacks while we held a brief introduction of staff and told the story of Dr. Lori Cohen and how through her unending desire to promote women’s wellness through activities in nature this particular retreat came to be. We invited the participants to tell us a little bit about themselves and anything they would like to share with the group.


Some of the participants opened up right away and began to speak of their experiences after diagnosis. Others held back a bit and told some basic information about themselves and how they came to know about Casting for Recovery. Either way we were all getting to know one another and the peer support began.


With a day and half to get everything covered we headed to Angler’s Covey to learn about fly fishing! The fitting of waders is

always a time full of giggles and silliness and this time was no exception.


We held our classes at the Angler’s Covey Fly Shop and Becky was our lead Fly Fishing Instructor with the assistance of Sharon Wright. Sharon and Becky taught our participants how to tie a clinch knot and a surgeon’s knot, there was an overview of fly fishing equipment and there was even a lesson about entomology. As the rain poured outside we were safe and dry inside sitting under the drift boat hanging above the classroom.


We noticed the rain beginning to let up and hurried outside to learn how to rig a rod under the covered pavilion behind Angler’s Covey. Just as we finished rigging the rain let up and it was time to hit the casting ponds. Our participants were able to learn an overhead cast and a roll cast all before the rain started again. As the skies were drizzling Becky asked the participants if they wanted to see a demonstration of a hook set. Despite the inclement weather the answer was a resounding YES! A little rain couldn’t stop these brave women from learning everything they could about fly fishing.


We returned to the Cliff House for a little free time. The ladies were able to retreat to their rooms for a little rest and to freshen up for dinner. We all met downstairs in the Solarium, a private dining room in the Cliff House where our participants had a choice of chicken, fish or beef for their entrée and desserts a little to sinful to mention! After dinner, our participants participated in the CfR tradition called “Evening Circle.” This is a discussion led by our Medical Facilitator Beth Overton, RN and our Psychosocial Facilitator Susan Ash-Lee, LCSW. Both facilitators are licensed professionals with years of experience in oncology. During this time our participants are invited to discuss the emotional and physical impacts of breast cancer. It is a time of sharing, insight and camaraderie. Since most of the participants have never had any type of post diagnosis support this is an essential part of the CfR experience. As we sat around our candlelit table with the rain drizzling down outside each participant had an opportunity to share any emotional or physical issues they were experiencing or questioning. This is a safe and intimate place where support is given, questions are answered and fears are put to rest. One of our participants said “this is the first time I have been with someone who completely understands what I am feeling, it means everything to me.” 


Fishing Day!


Our participants were up early and anxious to start applying what they learned and catch some fish!! Once again the grey skies and drizzling rain didn’t damper their spirits. Our Participant Coordinator Barb Farrell watched the forecast ahead of time and asked everyone to come prepared with layers to keep warm. As we walked out of our hotel we were so surprised to see our volunteer Comer Hobbs with a beautiful Mercedes Motor Coach donated for the day by Davey Coach. We rode in style to our fishing spot at Rainbow Falls Mountain Trout.


Upon our arrival at Rainbow Falls Mountain Trout we gathered for our traditional “Streamside Celebration”. This experience combines poems and readings that celebrate our time together and the new friendships and natural places that renew our spirit. Susan Ash-Lee explained that Casting for Recovery invites each woman to cast away the old and she extends an invitation to move forward. As is the tradition at Casting for Recovery retreats around the world, the women participated in the “Casting of the Stones” into the river which represents getting rid of the negative elements in their lives. We end with a wish of “May You Be Well” and we are off to meet our guides for the day!


We were so very fortunate to have such wonderful anglers who volunteered their time and talents to us for the entire day. Each participant had her own guide for a one on one fly fishing experience. Becky Leinweber, Sharon Wright and Janine Young from Angler’s Covey each guided a participant.


 We also had long time Casting for Recovery volunteer guides Jen Lofgren, Manager of Orvis Cherry Creek, Comer Hobbs Jr. from Davey Coach and Kay Dushane a fly guide on staff at North Fork Ranch Guide Service.As a true testament of their guiding skills each participant caught at least two fish! Such an exciting time for our new anglers. Aside from learning how to fly fish our participants also learn how to safely release a fish, how to wade safely and how to be stewards of our environment. 


Mother Nature smiled on us throughout our fishing day. The rain stopped and the skies cleared and we had a wonderful lunch by the river. Richard Johnson of Rainbow Falls Mountain Trout had set up picnic tables in the barn just in case but we were able to enjoy our time outdoors in the sunshine that kept us warm.


During our Closing Celebration we expressed our gratitude to a few of those who helped us make the 2017 retreat a reality. We remembered Dr. Cohen and acknowledged the financial support we have received from her trust. We gave a shout out to those near and far who support us in so many ways. If you are reading this letter we’d like to thank you for your contribution in helping us continue our mission of improving the quality of life for breast cancer survivors.


As we handed our participants their diplomas and our guides their certificates of appreciation they each took turns to tell a little bit about their day and their time together. Through the laughter and the tears each pair described their favorite part of the day and being together during this experience. The participants each received a fly box filled with flies including the fly they caught their first fish with.


We asked our participants early in this experience to think of a name for our group. At dinner on Saturday night one of the waiters mistakenly thought we were in recovery from alcohol. Since there is no alcohol allowed at the retreat he simply made an honest mistake and was frantically clearing the wine glasses from our table. It was due to this funny mistake this group came to be named “Angler’s Anonymous”. 


May the “Angler’s Anonymous” always hold in their hearts the magic and renewal of Casting for Recovery 2017!



In closing, the following is a poem we recite to each other on Sunday morning at the Streamside Celebration. It is our heartfelt message to each of you, our generous supporters and volunteers…..


“May you be happy,

May you be well,

May you be filled with loving kindness,

May you find peace.”


Peggy Stevinson

Retreat Leader

Casting for Recovery – Colorado


On behalf of the entire Casting for Recovery – Colorado Team




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