Lines of Healing, Hope and Lifetime Memories

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Lines of Healing, Hope and Lifetime Memories

Art Panfil and Bill Holk holding up a fish on a boat.

Art Panfil, left, and Bill Holk, right.

Cast it Forward Gives Veterans the Thrill of a Lake Erie Fishing Excursion

Sometimes there’s no better cure for the stresses of our landbound lives than a few peaceful hours on the water.

Art Panfil knows this to be true. He’s experienced it throughout his more than 30 years of fishing the waters of Lake Erie and he is now seeing it through the eyes of appreciative kids, Veterans and seniors who benefit from Cast it Forward, the non-profit organization he established to share the joy of spending a day on the lake in a fully outfitted fishing boat.

“I really want to be able to support Veterans and give back, and this is our small way of trying to make a difference,” Panfil explains.

Andy Hocevar reeling a fishing rod from his chair on a boat.

Andy Hocevar 94 yrs young Navy Vet

This desire to give back comes naturally, as Panfil watched his father, a Korean War Vet, donate countless hours in support of military causes, youth organizations, his church and a local hospital. Cast it Forward, founded in 2021, honors his father’s memory by opening the wonders of Ohio’s greatest natural resource to those who are either physically or financially unable to do so themselves. His ultimate hope is that participants will find the serenity he enjoys while casting his lines far from the shore.

97 year young Gene Wright holding a large fish in both hands while seated.

Gene Wright 97 yrs young Navy Veteran participant

Based on the feedback of several Veterans, Panfil and his small team of volunteers are more than catching their “limit” during these free, all-inclusive excursions. Among those who have joined Panfil for hours of great fishing and good conversation are a 97-year-old World War II Veteran for whom catching a walleye was a remaining bucket list challenge. It turns out the Veteran caught all the fish that day.

Other recent participants were a Vet who had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and a blind, 94-year-old Navy Vet who had been a longtime angler before losing his sight. Panfil worked closely with family members to accommodate the Vet’s special needs, resulting in an unforgettable experience for all, including Panfil himself.

Cast it Forward provides all fishing gear, snacks, lunch and beverages. All that’s required of participants is that they have a valid Ohio fishing license, wear soft-soled shoes and arrive at the dock at the scheduled time. Panfil often speaks with participants by telephone prior to their excursion to understand their unique needs and expectations and to gain a sense of how he can provide the most rewarding experience possible. Small groups are preferred.

“If you want to go out and experience the healing powers of the water, or if it’s something you used to do and haven’t been able to in a while, please get in contact with us and we’ll do everything in our power to make that happen for you,” he says.

To learn more about Cast it Forward and to contact Art Panfil, simply visit Be sure to read about the experiences of other Veterans who have benefitted from Panfil’s generosity. Then use the website’s “Contact” tab to request more information and begin the process of booking a fishing excursion.

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