Kids and their CPS Energy fishing buddies eagerly watched the red and white bobbers floating in the small cove at Calaveras Lake. Within moments of casting lines, bobbers quickly disappeared underwater, signaling a catch. Kids filled the cove with laughter as CPS Energy employees helped them reel in big, floppy catfish. After a quick photo and a high five, the buddies showed the new young fishermen how to safely release the catfish back in the water and bait the hook for another big catch.
Last Saturday, April 14, more than 160 CPS Energy volunteers reeled in a lifetime of memories for children of all ages at the 16th Annual Kids Fish Day. CPS Energy sponsored about 45 children from Mission Road Ministries (MRM) and the La Vernia Challengers Baseball team for a day of fishing, boating and outdoor fun.
MRM is a local non-profit that daily serves hundreds of kids and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Anna Metaxas-Garcia, a children’s program director at MRM, said the kids they serve have experienced any number of hardships, including abuse, neglect and homelessness. The nonprofit provides residential, day services and vocational programs to help them heal and reach independence, productivity and inclusion in the community. Fun and positive outings like Kids Fish Day go a long way to lifting their spirits and building trust with others.
“Getting a chance to interact with adults who care for them and show compassion is so important,” said Anna. “It gives them a sense of normalcy. They’re treated like other children who don’t face the same challenges. CPS Energy employees did a great job caring for our kids and showing them compassion.”
Carlton Burleson, an equipment operator at our Northwest Service District, personally knows the importance of interactive, compassionate events like Kids Fish Day. His daughter, Paige, who has Down syndrome, attended the event as a participant five years ago.
“Paige had such a blast on that day that we wanted to come back the next year as volunteers,” said Carlton. “We just wanted to return the favor and help other kids enjoy the event. We’ve been volunteering every year since then.”
This year, Paige was able to enjoy the event as a participant again, but this time she brought along fellow teammates of the La Vernia Challengers baseball team. Carlton and his wife, Tammi, started the team in 2009 for kids in their community with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Gregg Tieken, Senior Manager of Environmental Operations at CPS Energy, is the team’s assistant coach and a regular volunteer at Kids Fish Day.
Carlton and Gregg not only work hard every day to put People First at CPS Energy, but they’re also proud to do it on personal time. Carlton said they’re just glad to give these kids the chance to experience and enjoy outdoor activities.
“I think every kid should have opportunities to learn and grow from fun activities like fishing and baseball,” he said. “Kids Fish Day is a good example of that because the volunteers do a great job of making sure every kid has a good time.”
Along with a dedicated group of volunteers, the event would not be possible without great support from event partners. Prior to the event, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department stocked the lake with hundreds of catfish to ensure a guaranteed catch. C.A.S.T. (Catch a Special Thrill) for Kids supplied rods, reels and buckets of bait and tackle. We send a special thank you to them for their dedicated support. Together, since we started Kids Fish Day in 2002, we’ve helped more than 600 kids cast a line and catch a dream.