In 2014, Jess and wife Lauren’s son, Kase, was born. Soon after, Jess started experiencing intense anxiety attacks, which he had never had before. In a six-month period, he lost 30 lbs., was missing work frequently, and distancing himself from loved ones. "A friend that I admired kept getting me out on the river and I found that when I was on the river I forgot about everything but fishing,” explained Jess. All his worries and anxious thoughts seemed to disappear as soon as he stepped into the water. “When we are fly fishing we are so concentrated on casting, mending, presenting good drifts, etc., that we forget about everything else around us."
During this time, Jess was introduced to mentoring children in foster care through an organization at church. The timing was perfect. He was looking for a way to give back to the community through fly-fishing, a sport that had helped him over some very tough hurdles.
"It broke my heart knowing that my son was going to grow up in a loving home with parents that would support him no matter what and these kids in foster care did not have that. It’s hard enough growing up, much less growing up without loving parents." He continued, "They did not choose this path. Someone else’s action brought them to where they are."
Jess realized that not only could fly fishing help these children’s lives, but it would be an opportunity for them to get out on an adventure, which is something they don’t often get to experience.
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