13-Year-Old Boy Starts His Own Nonprofit To Teach Children With Cancer How To Fish

by Kim Wong-Shing
Kim Wong-Shing is a staff writer at LittleThings. Her work spans beauty, wellness, pop culture, identity, food, and other topics. She is a contributing writer at NaturallyCurly, and her work has also appeared in HelloGiggles, Lifehacker, Wear Your Voice Magazine, and other outlets. She grew up in Philadelphia, attended Brown University, and is now based in New Orleans.

At only 13 years old, a boy in Florida is making a huge difference in the lives of young cancer patients by teaching them how to fish.

Jake Klopfenstein absolutely loves fishing. So when he felt inspired to help children who are battling cancer, fishing was the first thing that popped into his mind.

Jake started Angling for Relief, a nonprofit group that takes children with cancer out on fishing trips. He came up with the idea after watching a childhood friend deal with Ewing’s sarcoma. The disease took the boy out of school, and he spent a lot of time waiting in the hospital for treatment.

“He said, ‘Mom, he doesn’t even get to go fishing,'” Jake’s mom, Toni, told

To Jake, fishing is a hobby that goes hand-in-hand with a major health struggle like cancer. He says it takes a lot of patience to be a cancer patient, so why not learn a sport in which you practice waiting around?

Plus, fishing is a peaceful distraction.

“It’s relaxing. It’s being out in nature,” Toni explained. “They’re not thinking about ‘Oh, I have cancer.’ They’re outside, near the water.”

Jake’s organization gifts fishing poles to patients in pediatric cancer wards. They help the kids practice “dry fishing,” or casting the lines from their hospital beds. Jake and his mom also take patients who are physically able out on fishing expeditions.

Way to go, Jake!

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