Nonprofit, On River Time, Hosting 5th Annual Auction to Provide the Fly Fishing Experience of a Lifetime to Abused Children

Keynote Speaker: Decorated Army Veteran, John Wayne Walding

Birmingham, Ala.—September 1—Ticket sales have begun for On River Time’s Fish On, the nonprofit’s annual live and silent auction with dinner and drinks. The event is September 27th from 6-10p.m. at the Florentine in Birmingham; single tickets and tables are available at No one evening is more important to On River Time’s programming, which hosts an annual fly fishing camp as its anchor activity for inspiring abused and neglected children.

In 2012, Homewood local Steve Davis hatched a plan in Idaho to help kids in Alabama. He wanted to give those who were coping with the scars of childhood abuse and neglect a special kind of peace, one that he had only felt fly fishing in big sky country. Other studies on PTSD veterans have indicated that fly fishing can be part of a larger healing process, and what better way for him to jumpstart a new set of memories and experiences for these kids? So, Davis and some friends paid all expenses for 3 kids and their guardians to have the consummate fly fishing experience at his favorite lodge, The Lodge at Palisades Creek. The Lodge’s setup and willingness to allow On River Time host camp regularly in early June prompted Davis to form a 501(c)(3), create a board, and hire an executive director.

Six Junes later the registered nonprofit has taken 83 abused and neglected children from group homes to a precisely programmed fly fishing camp that they’ll never forget. “We want to give them a turning point in their personal narratives, to implant a huge positive memory,” said Director Jeana Durst. “Every year, we have honed our activities and expanded year round mentoring and outreach.”

A turning point in On River Time’s narrative was the boost in fundraising the Fish On auction represented, beginning in 2014. “More than any one night, this affects the scope of our activities for the rest of the year,” she said. “Attendees who raise their bid card are putting a kid in a plane seat for the first time, putting them in a boat with a lifelong guide, and letting them see beauty that stuns them speechless.”

Durst credits the fundraiser with allowing the funds to add a partner home; expand the camp to include national park exploration; develop a peer mentor program in which previous campers return their senior year as role models; donate scholarships to attendees; and, most dramatically, to build a permanent camp cabin home on the grounds of the Lodge.

But there is more on the horizon if the event continues to exceed expectations:

  • Additional Partner Homes
  • Interspersed Fishing-Related Outings Closer to Home
  • Expanded Scholarship Program for Attendees
  • New Activities to Be Added to Camp
  • Durst said that they select a speaker for Fish On each year who will give the audience a boost, something to take home with them along with the unique items and good feeling of having changed lives.

    This year’s speaker is John Wayne Walding. John Served in the Army and Special Forces for 12 years. During a battle in Iraq in 2008, he lost his leg to a sniper and continued fighting for hours. He went on to become the first amputee graduate of Special Forces Sniper School and served as a Green Beret Sniper Instructor. He speaks nationally about maintaining focus in the face of adversity (

    Fish On always delivers a wide range of travel experiences, local entertainment and leisure packages, artisan crafts, and jewelry. This year’s evening will balance dinner with a silent auction prior and a live auction after. Here are just a few items for bid:

    • A week in Tuscany
    • Alabama vs. LSU football tickets
    • Diamond jewelry from Coman Baum
    • Guided fishing at The Lodge at Palisades Creek
    • Custom clothing from Hong Kong Tailors
    • Personal training sessions at Pure Fitness
    • Signed Alabama and Auburn footballs from Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn
    • Kendra Scott jewelry
    • A tour of Good People Brewery
    • Birmingham Barons tickets
    • A catered low country boil for 8 from A Social Affair
    • A kayak from Deep South Outfitters

    As always, the full dinner with complimentary wine will match the grandeur of the 20s architecture of The Florentine building. Individual tickets for Fish On are $100, and 10 person tables are $1,000. Please contact Jeana Durst at if you would like to discuss other sponsor options for yourself or your company.

    About On River Time
    On River Time exists to change the lives of children who have survived abuse and neglect. A registered 501 (C)(3) organization, it uses fly fishing and mentorship to provide middle and high school aged children with hope and the inspiration to dream big. While the program is grounded in an unforgettable fly fishing trip, On River Time’s mentor network supports participants throughout the year in a way that cultivates their ability to trust and instills a heightened sense of value.

    On River Time Puts More Boats on the Water, Dreams in the Minds of Abused Teens at Yearly Camp in Idaho

    Birmingham, Alabama — May 1, 2018 — For the seventh consecutive year, On River Time is hosting a fly fishing camp in scenic Idaho for specially selected abused children between ages 12 and 17. The nonprofit covers all expenses for a five day camp full of personal growth, ecology learning and catching trout from a guided drift boat at one of the best spots in the country. This year, two five-day sessions will be held, May 29-June 3, and June 11-16.

    What are good memories worth? Many of us seamlessly navigate through positive experiences without pause. On the other hand, painful memories are visceral landmines we do best to avoid. Memories and experiences tell us about who we are, how valuable we are to others, who we can trust, and what matters. They also point toward a future depending on the narratives we write ourselves. What if you had lived near a dumpster for food, been abandoned by successive sets of relatives, abused by someone you trusted, or only recently had received three meals a day?

    On River Time is a nonprofit that takes kids with some of the worst memories available to humans to a fly fishing camp as far away as possible from everything they know—the chance for a dramatic pivot. It’s the beginning of a mentoring relationship to reset self-perceptions for the future of these abused and neglected children.

    This year’s 21 campers have been carefully selected as outstanding examples of good behavior and enthusiasm at On River Time’s partner ranches. They have been through introductory fly casting lessons and camp primers. This year, there will be five peer mentors attending, who represent camps from 2014 to 2017.

    The Fish On camp serves as a motivator and reward year after year. Peer mentors, exemplary campers from previous years, have a chance to return their senior year to help lead camp activities and set the tone for new campers.

    Campers will fly in to Idaho Falls, the first plane flight for many of them. The dramatic foreign scenery is a significant part of the experience—the weather, mountains, high plains, animals, snow, are all so strange compared to homes in Texas and Alabama. They will spend their days at the 2014 Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing Lodge of Year, The Lodge at Palisades Creek, with everything they need provided. Lifelong guides will show them what it takes to catch the three types of trout that live in the Snake River.

    Fishing days are organized around team competitions. Each boat consists of a mentor (adult board member, junior board member, staff, or peer mentor) and a camper who inevitably form a connection in their eight hours on the water together. Nights are for reflection, sharing and growth activities, including a worry-burning ceremony and an interviewing activity (check out the 2017 camp blog here).

    One day of camp is spent exploring Grand Teton National Park with experts from the Teton Science Schools. The prospect of seeing eagles, moose, bear, mountain goats, and more in the primordial Yellowstone ecosystem is unforgettable.

    Exactly what will stick out to them in their mind’s eye is uncertain: for some it is the team aspect of fishing, for others the opportunity to speak and share feelings, and for every kid so far it is in part catching a trout by their own efforts and skill. Every camper remarks that this is among the most unique positive experiences of their lives so far.

    About On River Time

    On River Time exists to change the lives of children who have survived abuse and neglect. A registered 501 (C)(3) organization, it uses fly fishing and mentorship to provide middle and high school aged children with hope and the inspiration to dream big. While the program is grounded in an unforgettable fly fishing trip, On River Time’s mentor network supports participants throughout the year in a way that cultivates their ability to trust and instills a heightened sense of value.

    Malibu Wines in the Gazebo

    Please join us on
    May 18th from 4PM until 8PM
    for an evening of wine, food and raffles at
    Malibu Wines in the Gazebo
    (located at 31740 Mulholland Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265)
    to help provide an experience of a lifetime for an abused and neglected child.

    On River Time is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating
    an uplifting environment for abused and neglected children
    through the experience of fly fishing and appreciating nature.
    Please click here, select Donors Choice, and enter $135.
    Then bring your receipt for entry at the front.
    Please RSVP to Emalyn Lovitt at 818-598-6435

    On River Time Supporters Contribute $158,000 at Fish On Fundraiser

    On River Time raised more than $158,000 at its yearly Fish On fundraiser via tickets and live auction on October 26. Because of this success, two fly-fishing camp sessions in Idaho will be fully funded for participants from Still Creek Ranch in Bryan, TX and Big Oak Ranch in Springville, AL. The event was hosted at the Florentine in Birmingham.

    The Fish On Fundraiser has propelled the mission of On River Time since the first in 2014, changing the lives of abused and neglected children through fly fishing and mentoring.

    “This event has consistently raised well over $100,000, and it has directly allowed the nonprofit to create new programs to inspire leadership throughout the year, host fly fishing camps, purchase graduation gifts and provide scholarships,” said Executive Director Jeana Durst. “The donor base has kept pace with the refinement of the organization and programming. As a result, campers and partners know On River Time will be there for them,”

    On River Time has also been able to increase numbers of campers, mentors and camp sessions. The board of directors was even emboldened to begin building an On River Time cabin at the Lodge at Palisades Creek in 2016, now complete.

    Jim Archibald speaks after receiving the Casting Arc

    Jim Archibald speaks after receiving the Casting Arc

    Founder Steve Davis opened the evening by presenting the first ever “Casting Arc” award, which refers to the perfect fly fishing cast. The Casting Arc is presented to those who offer their specialized expertise to benefit On River Time. Jim Archibald of Bradley was awarded the honor for donating legal services dating to the inception of On River Time, as he helped the organization become a 501(3)(c) in 2012. Ever since his support and legal knowledge has been invaluable. Archibald spoke about being lucky to find such a unique way to impact children who will take full advantage of new experiences. His son, a fly-fishing expert, donated a box of hand-tied flies to the event.

    John Croyle speaks along with two former campers

    John Croyle speaks along with two former campers

    Prior to the auction, keynote speaker John Croyle, founder of Big Oak Ranch, emphasized the impact of On River Time’s yearly Fish On camp on his kids. Most have never even been on an airplane, so this experience wakes them up to larger possibilities. As an example, he noted that one previous camper had just returned from her summer job at the Lodge at Palisades Creek where she had made happy memories two years ago. Croyle brought with him two exceptional campers from years past, who spoke extemporaneously about memories, serious and humorous, before one of them asked the blessing.

    David Zelski discusses the appeal of On River Time for his series

    David Zelski discusses the appeal of On River Time for his series

    Dave Zelski, host and Producer of the Discovery’s Destination Americas series Angler and Appetites, presented a teaser clip of the On River Time episode from this camp this year. He discussed how the episode he did last year featuring Fish On camp infused the show with heart, and that his crew made personal connections with the campers that they will never forget. This gave them the impetus to do another episode. He credited the camp programming and unique place as a catalyst for kids’ opening up. “I have river rocks signed by everyone from the 2016 and 2017 camps next to a baby picture of my child—so that’s how much the experience meant to me.”

    Guin Robinson hosted the live auction that included international trips, hunting getaways, sports tickets, and a few hand crafted home items.

    About On River Time

    On River Time exists to change the lives of children who have survived abuse and neglect. A registered 501 (C)(3) organization, it uses fly fishing and mentorship to provide middle and high school aged children with hope and the inspiration to dream big. While the program is grounded in an unforgettable fly fishing trip, On River Time’s mentor network supports participants throughout the year in a way that cultivates their ability to trust and instills a heightened sense of value.

    Selecting participants from reputable nonprofit partners, On River Time pays all expenses for these young people and their guardians to enjoy fly fishing at The Lodge at Palisades Creek on the banks of the Snake River in Idaho. They also learn about river conservation and tour National Parks. More importantly, they make connections with others who uniquely understand them. On River Time, founded in 2012, is based in Birmingham, Alabama and currently serves children from Big Oak Ranch in Springville, Alabama and Still Creek Ranch in Bryan, Texas. On River Time is a “For Impact” organization.

    “Jeff’s Jubilee” Honors the Memory of a Fishing Friend for a Third Year by Supporting On River Time

    A close knit group of fly fishermen from Guntersville made On River Time part of Jeff’s Jubilee for a third consecutive year, donating proceeds from a live auction to our mission in honor of their departed fishing partner, Jeff.

    Jeff's Jubilee

    “This was touching example of a grassroots event that raises funds and awareness for On River Time,” said Jeana Durst. “The fly fishing community seems to understand our impact intuitively: so much more than just fishing happens on the water.”

    Around 20 friends and family of the fly fishing group gathered beyond where the pavement ends outside of Mentone, Alabama after a day of fishing the Little River. North Alabama style Barbecue was served. Several of the group shared memories of Jeff, whose wife and family attended.

    We sent our communication crew, camp veterans Greg Robinson and Mollie Blackwood to give a presentation about On River Time and to deliver auction items and thank you certificates for the organizers.

    Birmingham Nonprofit Uses Idaho Fly Fishing Camp to Inspire Abused Teens

    Intense, vivid moments dominate our memories. Think about the events you dwell on most often. You may consider yourself lucky if you are not burdened with a traumatic memory of abuse. Around 3 million cases of abuse or neglect are investigated each year.

    Birmingham-based nonprofit On River Time provides uplifting memories and positive mentors to childhood abuse survivors.

    Last June, one 16 year old girl with troubling memories caused by those closest to her was able to add a formidable good memory to her mindscape. She took her first plane flight, threw her first line, learned about the ecosystem, listened to her personal guide, and reeled a 24-inch brown trout into the boat on her first day fishing. That is a lifetime fish for anyone. On River Time creates lifetime opportunities every year for abused and neglected teens, culminating in its Fish On camp. Since 2012– they have paid all expenses for fly-fishing camp experiences for dozens.

    From June 3-8, eight more teens who have become model students and leaders despite their difficult circumstances will be provided a chance to let their dreams grow bigger, to trust others, and to have an array of value-affirming experiences learning fly fishing on Idaho’s Snake River.

    They will learn about a new sport and a new ecosystem in a wondrous context, the likes of which they have never seen (read the 2015 camp blog here). They will sleep and dine at the 2014 Orvis Fly Fishing Lodge of the Year, The Lodge at Palisades Creek. The 5,000-ft mountain peaks will still be snow-capped. Moose, bald eagle, badger, even bear sightings are common. Orvis endorsed guides will paddle them on day-long fishing adventures. The group will also enjoy an educational day at Grand Teton National Park and leadership and team-building activities.

    This is an especially exciting year as it will be the first that campers will enjoy the new On River Time Fish On cabin, completed last November. Its purpose is to provide a permanent camp home and affirm the ongoing mission of the nonprofit.

    Last year, the crew of the outdoors/food series Anglers and Appetites joined us, as seen here. This year, they will return to document the camp for Discovery’s Destination America channel.

    One previous attendee will be returning to the Lodge this summer, not as a camper, but as an employee. This young woman, who had never traveled beyond her home state of Alabama, had the confidence to apply to be a summer employee in Idaho.

    About On River Time

    On River Time exists to change the lives of children who have survived abuse and neglect. A registered 501 (C)(3) organization, it uses fly fishing and mentorship to provide middle and high school aged children with hope and the inspiration to dream big. While the program is grounded in an unforgettable fly fishing trip, On River Time’s mentor network supports participants throughout the year in a way that cultivates their ability to trust and instills a heightened sense of value.

    On River Time Campers Speak at “Fish On” Fundraiser, Spurring a Record $158,000 in Net Fundraising

    Birmingham, Ala. — “This experience gave me something big to remember,” said an 18-year-old camper from Big Oak, as he recalled his two fly-fishing journeys to Idaho with On River Time. Another 17-year-old Big Oak camper recalled the countless new sights and skills that she could have never imagined before; she created bonds with guides and mentors; and this summer she will apply to work at the Lodge at Palisades Creek, home to the “Fish On” camp. Testimony from the campers themselves touched the 180 friends and supporters of On River Time who gathered at the Florentine, September 29 to support the nonprofit at the third annual “Fish On” Fundraiser. They subsequently raised $158,000 which included corporate sponsorships, ticket sales and live auction proceeds.

    Founder Steve Davis opened the evening by discussing the way that fly fishing reinforces hope, trust, dreams, and a sense of value. On River Time uses fly fishing at a beautiful destination to give the campers space to having big and small moments of peace: simple laughter on the boat about the one that got away or more literal expressions of fellowship in fireside ceremonies. He recounted the two 2016 camp sessions with a record number of campers and the construction progress of the On River Time cabin.

    John Croyle, Founder of Big Oak Ranch began his key note speech as the first course of dinner was served with donated wine from Schug Carneros Winery. Croyle reminded all that this is the only organization that he speaks at for fundraising other than his own—such is its impact on his children. Croyle emphasized that even the board members, successful people from all over the country, were actively involved and accessible to the campers. He encouraged audience members to be “giants” to the children through their donations, demonstrating commitment, vision, and helping to lay a foundation for the future. Croyle asked everyone to think about the often times taken-for-granted hope that their own children likely have, and to use their donation to give the same hope to children who have not had an easy path. He said “I believe in them [On River Time] because they believe in our kids.”

    With Steve Davis’ narration, Guin Robinson conducted the live auction, which consisted of trips—Ireland, Cuba, Italy, Idaho Fly Fishing, New York—and dining experiences with local restaurants and caterers such as Fleming’s, Oscar’s and A Social Affair, GianMarcos, Galley & Garden and Daniel George. Other live auction items included generous packages from local sponsors like Pure Fitness, Brookwood Dermatology, MomenTaker Photography, The Vintage Station and Village Dermatology.

    Davis then shared with the audience a promo of an upcoming episode of the Fox Sports’ series Anglers and Appetites featuring On River Time. For the remainder of the evening, attendees relaxed to the sounds of the MetroGnomes band, a variety of jazz, classic rock, funk, and soul.

    “We have a great foundation in terms of a program, a perfect place, and the people who are propelling it. Every year of successful fundraising is supporting past campers and reaching new ones exponentially,” said Director Jeana Durst.

    Anglers & Appetites, October 2016

    Anglers & Appetites will feature On River Time in an episode scheduled to air this October on Fox Sports South and Fox Sports Sun (see schedule for dates/times below).

    Fox Sports South (GA, MS, AL, KY, TN, NC, SC):
    Sat 10/08/2016 10:30 AM
    Tue 10/11/2016 5:30 PM
    Wed 10/12/2016 12:00 AM

    Fox Sports Sun (Florida):
    Fri 10/07/2016 8:00 AM
    Sun 10/09/2016 10:30 PM
    Tue 10/11/2016 8:30 AM