The Origin of Fish For Life


My name is Jim Holden, the founder of Fish for Life. I live in San Clemente, California and am an avid salt water fisherman. I have a dear friend, Jeffrey Kutcher who has cerebral palsy.

Jeffrey and I have had many lunches over the years and often times we have talked about fishing. During one lunch in 2009 I asked Jeffrey, “Let’s go do something besides lunch some day, what would you like to do?” Well with a big smile Jeffrey replied “I’d love to go fishing!”

On the way back to the office that day from lunch with Jeffrey a calling was revealed!

The ideas started rolling in- one after another! Ideas like:

  1. Why not take a BOATLOAD of kids with Cerebral Palsy fishing?!
  2. Why limit the trips to kids with cerebral palsy, why not include kids with any type special need?!
  3. Involve a crew of non-special needs kids & adult volunteers to serve them!
  4. Have an Opening Ceremony with speakers before the trip to honor our honored guests and their families!
  5. Provide everyone aboard with a cool T-Shirt to wear on the trip!
  6. Have a volunteer say a pray to honor God!
  7. Have a child sing the National Anthem to honor our country!
  8. How about rolling a Red Carpet down the gangway to introduce each honored guest!
  9. What about a name for this program, how about Fish for Life!
  10. As plans were developing, I told Jeff that I wanted to make him business cards with the title of his choice. I suggested “First Mate” or “Crew” or a variety of other titles and then after deep consideration Jeff produced a big smile and said, “Inspirer”!

Since the maiden voyage in 2010, we have served over 1500 special needs children!

Our Cause

Fish for Life is a non profit organization headquartered in Southern California. Our  charter is to to enhance the lives of special needs individuals by providing a complimentary fishing trip on the sea for them to enjoy.

This program is designed to provide love and inspiration to a multitude of special needs people while teaching fishing skills and creating memorable experiences.

A variety of details make the participants of a Fish for Life trip feel extra special!

The model for this type of a fishing trip makes kids with special needs feel very comfortable among their peers and very loved by all the volunteers.

The Fish for Life home port is at the Dana Wharf in Dana Point and we charter the 95ft vessel “Dana Pride”.

We are expanding the the East Coast this summer with our home port at Wildwood Crest, NJ and we are partnered with the Starlight Fleet.

Fish for Life chapters can be anywhere there is fishing!

If you are interested in starting a chapter in your area, contact us to learn how to get it started!

Contact Us

The Trip Format


After a few Speakers, a Prayer and the National Anthem, We roll out the red carpet, literally. Before each child boards the boat, they will be introduced with a brief bio that they supply prior to the trip. The child and parent will walk (or roll if in a wheelchair) down the red carpet sporting their new Fishing for Life T-Shirt as they are greeted by the Crew, Fishing Team Leaders and food servers who make them feel very welcomed.


Once aboard, the kids are grouped into teams and assigned a “Fishing Team Leader,” who is an experienced and loving fisherman, and will be responsible for his or her every need throughout the trip … but most of all will help them catch fish!

The Captain will announce the voyage destination and the First Mate will explain how to use the issued fishing equipment, teach fishing techniques and display how to use the bait selection available. He will also describe fish common to the area, and a variety of tips helpful to increase the odds of catching fish.

In addition to a complimentary lunch, volunteer young adults also serve appetizers throughout the trip to make our guests feel extra special.

Upon returning to the dock, the crew will clean all fish caught that will then be ready for a delicious meal!

Awards Ceremony

Before we dock, trophies are awarded to each child one at a time by their respective Fishing Team Leaders who will acknowledge to the crowd something special they caught and any nice thought to honor them individually. Each child will then also have an opportunity if they care to do so to say a few words.