To the 50 fishermen on the Snake River's South Fork last August, every arching cast was about more than catching the biggest fish. They were Casting 4 A Cure. Bill Farnum and Jim Copeland, long-time friends and avid fly fishermen, founded the nonprofit. In 2007, Farnum's daughter was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome, a disorder of the nervous system described as the worst form of autism. The disorder is found predominantly in females. Farnum did something about it.
"Casting 4 A Cure is a loose band of compatriots who fish and fundraise to find a cure for Rett Syndrome," Farnum said at the 2011 Idaho event. "We have pulled together many of the fly fishing industry's leaders and they have taken on the cause like it is their own. By 2020, we want Rett Syndrome in the rear-view mirror."
At the first event in 2009, 12 fishermen donned waders for the cause. 2010's Steamboat Springs event raised over $40,000. To date, Casting 4 A Cure has raised $200,000. Most funds go to the International Rett Syndrome Foundation and the Rocky Mountain Rett Association to support critical research and family services. Fundraising also helped the construction of a Rett Syndrome specialist clinic at Denver Children's Hospital in May 2012.
This August 23–25, 50 men and women will be forming teams of two in Victor, Idaho. The teams fundraise prior to the event to raise awareness. Each pair receives a bag with a photo of a girl with Rett Syndrome attached; they fish in her name throughout the event. This year, the focus is funding a clinical trial for a drug that could positively impact Rett's most significant symptoms. It's no hardship tour—the fishing is great. But the cause is greater still. —Dave MacRunnel