Casting for Recovery will hold its second annual “Game, Set, Match Against Breast Cancer Pro-Am Challenge” to be held Jan. 11 at the Bennington Tennis Center. Both amateur and pro tennis players are invited to participate in the event, which will pair men and women players from the NCAA championship team from Williams College with individual players.
“All the money raised will go toward hosting retreats for those who have been diagnosed with the disease at one time in their life,” said longtime volunteer and event organizer Betsy Butler, of Manchester, who estimates there will be another large turnout this year with all 30 spots being filled.
The Manchester-based chapter of the organization is part of Casting for Recovery’s Vermont/New Hampshire program, and will soon celebrate 15 years of helping cancer patients through raising funds and awareness.
“All the local women who go on these retreats do so at no cost to them,” said Holly Calloway, of Casting for Recovery’s community outreach department. “Since they’ve already dealt with so many costs, we do fundraising throughout the year to supplement the program,” said Calloway.
Nationwide, Calloway estimates that 440 retreats have been hosted, with more than 5,600 women served since the end of 2012.
“It’s not really about the fly-fishing, it’s about the women,” said Butler, noting that few women have prior experience with the sport, but that all are willing to give it a try.
“Over 70 percent of the woman who participate have never benefited from a support group,” she said, of the three-day trips which include the services of a mental health expert and an emergency medical technician on standby, as well as fly-fishing experts.
“It’s something new, it’s something beautiful — and this motion is really good for the body,” said Butler, indicating the movement required for casting a line into the water.
The next retreat will be held in Stowe, Vermont, where as many as 14 women currently fighting or in recovery from breast cancer will gather to bond and enjoy time for themselves.
“We have determined through many years of doing this that 14 is the highest number we can have and still keep it intimate,” said Butler, estimating that it costs $1,000 per person to host the retreats, where good food and relaxation are key priorities.
“I’ve seen from the women what it’s done to help them in a very short amount of time,” said Butler, who has volunteered as a social facilitator and trainer for more than 14 years. “It allows these women — from all walks of life — to focus on themselves and not on the disease.”
The upcoming event will be open to the public and feature a large silent auction. The event will be held Jan. 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Bennington Tennis Center located at 200 Lovers Lane. The fee for spectators is $10 and the fee for players is $50. Contact 802-297-2868 for more information.