Reel Recovery

A nonprofit organization

Reel Recovery serves men living with any form of cancer. We are wholly donor supported and committed to keeping our Retreats free to all participants. The average cost per participant is $700. Over 88% of funds go directly to Program Services. We are seeking funds for 2 Colorado Retreats in 2019.


"I'm sure this is a sentiment you have heard hundreds of times but I am truly having difficulty finding words that I feel adequately express my gratitude for this experience. I am forever changed in such a positive way. I am blessed, humbled, stronger and inspired. My thanks to you and all who made this retreat possible. I will never forget each one of you." Rich - 2016 participant

"This retreat changed my life! Thank all of you guys for being so caring and compassionate. I am a Vietnam Vet and there, we were a band of brothers; we had each other's backs and bonded in life and death. It's been 40 years and I never thought I'd have that experience again. Now I have - we are a Band of Brothers!"
Bob - 2016 Participant

"It was wonderful to connect with such a powerful and meaningful experience, with men of confidence and pride to be the best they can be no matter what their health challenges are. The Reel Recovery retreat was truly inspirational! Continue to fish on for your passions in life!" Ted, 2016 Participant

"I came to the Retreat looking for peace and to be with others who understand. I found both! Talking with the other men helped me learn so much about myself, reduce my stress and find peace. Thank you!"
Leroy, 2016 Participant

"My husband, Don, attended the Reel Recovery retreat in August. Since his return home from the "Great Weekend", he has talked often of the people he met, his conversations with you all, and his fishing on the Umpqua. He has enjoyed sharing his fishing weekend with his visitors; like a true fisherman, it seems like those fish get bigger and bigger with each sharing! His time with you changed his life and gave him hope in his cancer journey. I am sharing this with you as a reminder of how we influence others by simply living our daily lives. Please accept these words of encouragement as you continue to do this good work." Wife of 2016 Participant, Don

"Thank you for this experience; the Staff and Buddies were exceptional - everyone was patient, caring and so helpful. I feel that anybody that goes to a Reel Recovery Retreat will definitely gain new insights about their cancer and how others deal with it in their everyday lives. This was very uplifting! (and the fishing was so much fun too!)" Mike - 2016 Participant


Reel Recovery is a national non-profit organization that conducts free fly-fishing Retreats for men living with cancer. Our mission is to help men in the cancer recovery process by introducing them to the healing powers of the sport of fly-fishing, while providing a safe, supportive environment to explore their personal experiences with cancer, with others who share their stories.

The organization's purpose is to address the growing demand for and limited supply of psycho-social support services specifically tailored for men with cancer. Our overarching goal is to improve the lives of the men we serve. To do this, Reel Recovery has designed a unique and innovative Retreat program that combines expert fly-fishing instruction with directed psycho-social support, conducted over a three-day period at premier fly-fishing facilities. Though only a few days in duration, a Reel Recovery Retreat can be a life-changing event for these men battling cancer. The program blends outdoor activity with directed conversations to create a supportive environment conducive to relaxed, open participation.

Reel Recovery is dedicated to providing cancer patients with information, education and a network of support that will help them as they proceed through their cancer treatment and/or recovery. We are directly enhancing their ability to learn about and manage their disease. We provide participants an opportunity to gain new insights about living with cancer and about coping with the psychological, social and emotional aspects of having the disease. Our participants learn about treatment options, navigating the healthcare system, facing mortality, coping with stressful family and work related situations - in sum the whole gamut of experiences that life with cancer entails. By learning from others in similar situations, our participants can gain a fresh perspective about their disease and renewed hope about fighting and surviving it.

Background Statement

Reel Recovery was founded in Colorado by a group of avid fly-fishers, including a psychotherapist and a non-profit manager, who were inspired by their fishing buddy's ongoing battle with brain cancer. Witnessing first-hand the beneficial impact fly-fishing provided their friend, the group wanted to provide the same opportunity for others battling the disease. They incorporated Reel Recovery in Colorado on May 16, 2003 and received initial 501(c)(3) status from the IRS on August 6, 2003. Final Determination of 501(c)(3) status was granted April 25, 2008

Combining expert fly-fishing instruction with directed "courageous conversations" during three-day Retreats, Reel Recovery creates a unique experience for men with all forms of cancer: a time to share their stories, learn a new skill, form lasting friendships and gain renewed hope as they confront the challenges of cancer.

The first Reel Recovery Retreat was held June, 2003 at the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch in Loveland, Colorado. The Retreat was self-funded by the principals as a commitment to the establishment of the entity and to validate the concept in a practical application. A second Retreat was held at the same location in October, funded by a grant from the Lance Armstrong Foundation. A total of 17 men with cancer attended the two Retreats, and fifteen volunteers participated in coordinating and staffing the events. The two Retreats received excellent press coverage in Colorado, and generated considerable interest from both the medical and fly-fishing communities, creating a growing list of interested participants and volunteers for future Retreats.

Building on this initial success, Reel Recovery has now conducted a total of 280 Retreats to-date, serving over 3,200 men with cancer. Thirty-five of these have been held in Colorado.

Organization Data


Organization name

Reel Recovery

Year Established



Health Care

Organization Size

Medium Organization


9352 Chambray Lane
Highlands Ranch, CO 80130


160 Brookside Road
Needham, MA 2492

Service areas

Douglas County, CO, US




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