Perseverance Pays Off
By Tim Stouder & Katie Blunk
In all of our 7 years with the Northeast Florida HOW Chapter, our first event cancellation was in 2017 and scheduled to have been at Guana Preserve. It just so happened that was the time a hurricane came through our area. Not to be deterred and scared of the weather possibilities, we scheduled Guana again early this year. Well, the planning has paid off as the weather was absolutely beautiful this past Sunday, March 11, 2018.
For Veterans, family members, and our fantastic volunteers, March’s event did not disappoint. All week the calls and emails were coming in as the weather was predicted to be horrible. With a predicted 25+ MPH winds and scattered thunderstorms, we still had a full crowd of guests and guides signed up for our event. On the Friday before the event, the weather did a 180 degree turn and let loose with some of the best forecasts we have seen this year.
We launched close to 60 kayaks into the lake, which included 5 new veterans and 4 guides from the new Cumberland Heroes on the Water Chapter from Georgia there learning the ropes. Now Northeast Florida and South GA will have two HOW chapters to service veterans and first responders. NEFL HOW will be assisting the Cumberland Chapter with training and learning our routines so that they can grow as a chapter. After 7 years, our Chapter runs like a well-oiled machine each event.
So on to the great day we had at Guana. Many fish were caught throughout the lake, just no giants on this particular day. Many of the trout that were caught were dinks with a few really nice slots mixed in. The reds were chewing, just no real size to them. A few slots were mixed into the rats that were caught as well. The wind was perfect blowing out of the northeast and was less than 10mph which was a real lifesaver with keeping the no see’ems out of everyone’s face. As with every event, the smiles were in abundance.
April’s event will be in the black hammock area off of Hecksher drive and that date is currently TBD. We finally have a date for our overnight camping trip at Sebastian Inlet State Park. We will be camping the weekend from May 4th-6th. Once again, we will be teaming up with the Operation Outdoor Freedom, an amazing group from the National Forestry Service. This event will book complete within a day or so, so keep your eye out for it’s posting. It’s a very popular event with the spots limited since there is travel and all meals entailed.
As always, tight lines and stay safe.
About Heroes on the Water
Heroes on The Water is a non-profit organization that helps injured service members with their physical and mental recovery using the therapeutic qualities of fishing from kayaks. Every HOW event across the country brings together wounded military personnel for guided kayak fishing excursions. Founded in 2007, HOW has served more than 32,774 wounded Veterans. The service is provided to the Veterans for free. HOW is a non-profit organization under IRS Code Chapter 501(c)(3). Donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Visit www.HeroesOnTheWater.org
The next Heroes on the Water outing is scheduled at Cedar Point. If you are a Veteran, know of one that would like to participate, or if you are interested in volunteering or any other questions please contact Coordinator – Tim Stouder at NortheastFlorida@HeroesOnTheWater.org
If you would like to follow us on Facebook or make a donation to Heroes on the Water, you can do so at https://www.facebook.com/HeroesOnTheWaterNortheastFloridaChapter.