WOMEN WHO MAKE A DIFFERENCE, Miss Mayfly® Recognizes Becca Sue Klein
It is clear by her impressive accomplishments that Becca Sue Klein has an unbridled passion not just for fly-fishing, but also for our environment, our communities and for the healing experiences that fly-fishing provides.
Her story is one filled with achievement and legacy.
Becca Sue Klein
Planned Giving Officer and Founder; Becca Sue Klein All Kids Fish Chattahoochee Riverkeeper
Executive Director of Reeling in Recovery
Staff Member; Chattahoochee Riverkeeper
Becca's journey in environmental work began in 2007 when she assumed the role of Development Director at Catawba Riverkeeper in Charlotte, NC. In 2009, Becca accepted a position as the Development Director for Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (CRK) in Atlanta, GA where she worked under the leadership of Sally, CRK Co-Founder, who had also been a founding member of The Waterkeeper Alliance.
In 2016, Becca underwent a double mastectomy after an invasive breast cancer diagnosis. It wasn't long before Becca was introduced to Casting for Recovery Georgia (CfR GA), where she later became a volunteer. Soon after, she received her second cancer diagnosis leading to a thyroidectomy.
Becca then went on to found the "All Girls Fish" event that brings girls from the region onto the water to experience a day of fly fishing and learn why protection of our waterways is important. In October of 2022, the first "All 'Kids' Fish" event will take place allowing children of all genders to have this on-the-water experience.
Even though she still lives life as a cancer warrior, now fighting stage IV metastatic breast cancer- she had another passion yet to unveil and more work to do.
In 2022, Becca founded the non-profit organization Reeling In Recovery.
The organizations mission is to support those in addiction recovery through fly fishing. Finding peace, healing, and community on the river are the goals of this new non-profit.
Kim Ranalla, founder of Miss Mayfly®, first met Becca while volunteering at the "All Girls Fish" event in 2021.
Becca was pretty busy that day so we didn't get to connect but I was impressed with the large turn out at the event and ample knowledge and passion that was shared with the children that day. It wasn't until this year, in 2022 when I connected with Becca during her search for someone to help her some graphic needs for Reeling in Recovery. The organization is significant to me after losing loved ones in my life to addiction. Addiction has touched the lives of nearly everyone, in one way or another making it a cause that I want to be behind. I was honored when Becca asked me to join their efforts and take on a volunteer position.
Kim continued, "I wasn't aware that Becca's cancer diagnoses was as complex as it is. I soon realized that Becca has been going through chemo for the entire duration of our relationship. During a video call, Becca made a statement that will forever be an influential moment in own my life, she stated 'I figure if I'm going to have a terminal illness, I want to make as much of a difference as I can while I'm here.' That statement said so much to me about the kind of good soul that Becca is and how profound her work has been. I think about the legacy she is building and the inspiration and hope that she shares with others. She is a rare & special human- a warrior and a hero by all definitions".
You know how they say #WaterIsLife? Well for me, it couldn’t be more true, Becca stated in a 2020 article feature in Dunn Magazine "One Life One River". Over the past nine years, the Chattahoochee River has provided me a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of a hectic city life and the strength to get through two cancer diagnoses. It is also why I get up and go to work every day as a senior staff member of the nonprofit Chattahoochee Riverkeeper".
The Waterkeeper Movement
For those who aren’t familiar with Waterkeeper Alliance (WKA), it is the largest and fastest-growing movement solely focused on clean water. WKA unites more than 300 Waterkeeper Organizations around the world, focusing citizen action on issues that affect our waterways, from pollution to climate change. The Waterkeeper movement patrols and protects more than 2.5 million square miles of rivers, lakes, and coastlines in the Americas, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa. The movement defends the fundamental human right to drinkable, fishable and swimmable waters from the Chattahoochee River to the Himalayas.
Casting for Recovery, Community, and Cancer
"My life as a fly angler began that August morning in 2016. I immediately felt at home on the river. City life had started to wear on me, and there was something peaceful about standing in a stream in the mountains with nothing but the sounds of birds and the occasional splash of a wild trout coming up to say hello. I realized that this sport made my busy life slow down, even if just for a moment. It was a feeling I had been yearning for.
Although the free 'therapy' I got from being out on the river was nice, fly fishing really found a special place in my heart when I was introduced to Casting for Recovery. Early in 2016, I had undergone a double mastectomy after an invasive breast cancer diagnosis.
A friend told me about an organization he was involved with that brought women managing a breast cancer diagnosis out for fly fishing retreats. I immediately connected to the mission of this organization, as I knew first-hand the benefits this lifestyle offered women on the mend from such serious diagnoses. A few months later I was introduced to Casting for Recovery Georgia (CfR GA).
With CfR GA I started to feel like a real part of the fishing community. I was given the opportunity to interact with guides and fly shops, and to help make connections with outdoor companies looking to support breast cancer initiatives. I was able to lend my skills to a cause near and dear to my heart. It was the perfect match.
Soon after I started volunteering with the organization, I received my second cancer diagnosis. This time the cancer cells were in my thyroid and I would have to undergo a thyroidectomy in December. I was heartbroken. I wasn’t ready for another surgery. Lucky for me, this time I had fly fishing to help bring me clarity," says Klein.
Read More at Dunn Magazine "One Life One River"
All Kids Fish
In 2019, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (CRK) hosted the first-ever Water Warriors summit, a celebration of CRK’s 25th anniversary and a part of a broader commitment to inspire the next generation of environmentalists. That year, long time CRK staff Becca Sue Klein founded an idea, to bring girls from the region on the water to experience a day of fly fishing and learn why protection of our waterways is important. AKF is supported by partner groups and volunteers, including The Orvis Company; hosts Unicoi Outfitters, Smithgall Woods state Park and Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division, Fisheries; United Women On The Fly.
“We knew we wanted to develop and enable a new generation of conservation-minded youth who protect the waters that nourish fish and people,” said Becca in an article featured in Dunn Magazine, "Water-Warriors". “And the increase of millennial and generation Xers taking their kids out on the water with them was increasing.”
Because of the success of the All Girls Fish event, CRK made the decision to add a second event to allow children of all genders to have this on-the-water experience. The first All Kids Fish event will take place in Helen Georgia on October 22, 2022. Participants will learn how to assemble and cast a fly rod, how to tie knots and properly wear waders, safe fish handling and conservation, and how a healthy river sustains life. After lunch, participants are paired with volunteer river guides and mentors to break off to fish for trout with their peers.
“Together with our volunteers and community partners we are able to impact the lives of young ladies and marginalized youth throughout the watershed – providing a once-in-a-lifetime experience to remember for years to come”.
What You Can Do
The Becca Sue Klein All Kids Fish is made possible by the generosity of our sponsors, donors, and community partners. Annually, the events costs $35,000. This is accomplished through sponsorships from individuals, foundations, and corporations in our region and within the greater fly fishing community. Sponsorships range from $500 to $1,000, aimed at local fly shops and fly fishing clubs – all the way to $10,000 to $20,000+ for large scale support of the events.
Contact Becca Sue Klein, Founder, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by cell phone at 404.558.8676 for more information. If you are interested in sponsoring a scholarship student’s participation in the event ($100 donation), you may do so by visiting AKF22SponsorAKid – Chattahoochee Riverkeeper.
While the October 22 is fully booked, we invite you to please save the date for May 6, 2023 (coed event in Helen, GA), June (TBD; City of Atlanta event) and October 21, 2023 (flagship all girls event in Helen, GA).
Reeling In Recovery (RiR)
Non-profit Organization, Founded by Becca Sue Kline, Supports Recovery Through Fly Fishing
Metro Atlanta, GA - Finding peace, healing and community on the river are the goals of the new non-profit, Reeling in Recovery. While catching (and releasing) a beautiful fish is every fly fisher’s goal, time on the river and connection to nature is the therapy that most recovering addicts will benefit from. Reeling in Recovery was founded by avid anglers and people who are in active recovery from alcohol or drug abuse and now the organization’s first retreat this month has introduced others to the therapeutic sport of fly fishing.
A Hero in Recovery
The passion that drove Becca to establish Reeling in Recovery was inspired by her own personal recovery journey.
"On August 26, 2016, just three days after picking up a fly rod, I made the decision to live my own personal truth - a life without alcohol. Fly fishing soon replaced my daily whiskey and wine consumption. It was a reprieve from the stresses of my day-to-day life, and showed me the importance of slowing down. When I’m fly fishing, I’m not thinking about my lists of things to do, money or family struggles, or my stage IV breast cancer diagnosis. When I’m standing in a stream I’m able to live in the moment. Something I could never do in my days of active addiction. I want to share this experience with the recovery community".
“By connecting with others in the recovery community you build a support network. We want to break the barrier of isolation,” says Becca Sue Klein, Executive Director. “Sharing our experiences can bring us one step closer to continued sobriety. Our team and Board of Directors are dedicated to helping those in recovery.”
Reeling in Recovery retreats are free, and open to those who have chosen to live their personal truth - a life without alcohol and drugs. The Reeling in Recovery network also strives to serve as a safe space and resource for the sober fly angler who is doing the work one day at a time through volunteer opportunities at retreats and connections at fly fishing events and through social media platforms.
Participants in the retreats do not have to have previous experience fly fishing and can learn at their own pace. “The primary goal is to enjoy the outdoors, have fun and experience something new,” says Klein.
“Sharing what you do with others to take your recovery one day at a time could make all the difference to someone who is struggling,” says Andy Weiner, Board President. “It works if you work it. And yes, our participants get out of our program what they put into it. Recovery is a ‘we’ program and we look forward to walking (or wading!) this journey with the fly fishing and recovery communities.”
From participant Ginny: "I simply wanted to add another layer of "Thanks" to the mix as I am truly grateful to have participated in such a wonderful event! It was a fun day and a beautiful, spiritual and moving experience. Thanks for doing such a great job setting things up and organizing."