‘Numb from the generosity’

‘Numb from the generosity’

One Lehigh Acres veteran is still “numb from the generosity” he received from the Wounded Warrior Anglers Acts of Kindness Emergency Fund, earlier this month.

“It’s just awesome,” Allen Sparks, a U.S. Air Force veteran, said. “My heart and soul goes out to you guys. I appreciate it to no end.”

Wounded Warrior Anglers Acts of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund Committee Member Keith Campbell said a few weeks ago Mary Jo Sparks reached out to him when her husband Allen went missing. He said Allen had suffered a stroke when he was found, which left him in the hospital for a few days.

“Mary Jo had reached out to me again saying she was behind on financial bills and didn’t know where to turn to as far as help,” Campbell said, adding that he guided them to a couple of veteran organizations, including Wounded Warrior Anglers.

He presented the Sparks with a $2,500 check on Tuesday, May 5 to help them financially.

Mary Jo Sparks, Allen Sparks and Keith Campbell.

Mary Jo Sparks, Allen Sparks and Wounded Warrior Anglers Acts of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund Committee Member Keith Campbell.

“It feels good as long as we can get them back on the right page and right direction,” Campbell said. “I hope they can maintain it and move forward in the right direction.”

Allen served in the Air Force from 1987 to 1989 before being honorably discharged with a service related injury. The veteran suffers from many health related issues, including amnesia caused by PTSD. Due to his medical condition, Allen is not able to work, which leaves his wife generating the income to pay the bills.

“It’s like a hand of God that came through,” Allen said of the donation. “It was a beautiful thing. Keith being a long time friend and the people of the Wounded Warriors were awesome. They are great people. It’s a major blessing for that to happen. I don’t know what I would do without an organization like that that would step up.”

The donation, he said will help with his recovery, as well as stress that comes with worrying about paying bills.

“We were able to take a step forward and continue on with strong strides,” Allen said.

He said he has been in the area for 22 years working in the towing business, as well as delivering pizza. Over the years he has grown to know the people of the community, often times helping people broken down on the side of the road.

“People say that you are blessed 10 times over. It seems to be coming back around. I appreciate the people of Lee County that are able to reach out like this,” he said.

Allen said he looks forward to helping the organization, just like they helped him.

“All they have to do is pick up the phone and call and I will be there with bells on,” he said, adding that he offers a hearty gratitude to the organization. “I love them to death and I have some good new friends.”

The Acts of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund also helped Cape Coral resident Joe Boccuzzi’s brother John late last month. He said his brother, a disabled veteran who served during the Gulf War era, is looking to relocate from Ohio to Florida for work.

“I didn’t hesitate to ask any questions,” Campbell said. “If it is going to help them get a job and turn things around for them . . . let’s do it.”

Wounded Warrior Anglers provided $250 to the Boccuzzi family to help pay for John’s flight so he could attend the interviews.

“He wants to work somewhere year round,” Joe said.

During the winter months John, who works in a labor union for a commercial road construction crew, is laid off because of the Ohio winters.

“He has been with the same company for years. The winters are hard and he is getting older and wants to be able to work year round instead of seven or eight months a year,” Joe said.

He heard about Wounded Warrior Anglers during a motorcycle run that was benefiting the organization. After a conversation with President and Founder Dave Souders, he decided to become a member because he too is a veteran.

“There’s no looking back,” Joe said. “It’s a great group of people.”

The Acts of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund became a part of the organization on Oct. 14, 2014. The fund was created to provide appropriate relief to eligible veterans or disabled veterans who experience a qualifying event or emergency.

Cape family first to benefit from WWA Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund

Cape family first to benefit from WWA Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund

Published in the Cape Coral Daily Breze Oct. 31, 2014 issue

Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund changed the lives of a Cape Coral couple and their 1-year old son, Keygan, Wednesday, Oct. 22, when the organization donated $1,200 to Melissa and Eddie Breese.

“I didn’t even see the amount on the check until after they left,” Melissa said the following day. “Eddie looked at it and I seen tears in his eyes as they were walking out the door. He handed me the check . . . what can I say . . . it was amazing.”

Although the family recently lost their home, among other things, Melissa said people like the Wounded Warrior Anglers really came through for them, helping them see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Wounded Warrior Anglers just paid our first month’s rent,” Melissa said, adding that the donation also helped with putting down a deposit for their electric.

Kevin Purdy, Melissa Breese, Judy Souders, Keith Campbell and Eddie Breese.

Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund Committee Member Kevin Purdy, Melissa Breese, Wounded Warrior Anglers Vice President Judy Souders, Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund Committee Member Keith Campbell and Eddie Breese.

Wounded Warrior Anglers Vice President Judy Souders and Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund Committee Members Kevin Purdy and Keith Campbell presented the family with the check donation.

“This avenue for Wounded Warrior Anglers can be powerful for our community and the outreach we can do,” Souders said.

Melissa said they are beyond thankful.

“She is an angel,” she said of Souders.

“I thank God for all the help and all the good hearted people that have really come through for us,” Melissa said. “I don’t even know how to begin to tell you . . . there are so many wonderful people.”

The Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund became a part of the organization on Oct. 14. The fund was created to provide appropriate relief to eligible veterans or disabled veterans who experience a qualifying event or emergency.

“I think it is a fabulous thing that Wounded Warrior Anglers is doing,” Purdy said. “I feel very blessed to be a part of it.”

The Breese family was the first to benefit from the newly established fund because of a recent hardship they are experiencing.

Eddie, a Fort Myers High School graduate, enlisted in the Marine Corps and served in Desert Storm from 1988 to 1992. After returning from the service he started working on roofs, while owning his own business at one time.

“We have always been the ones to help others,” Melissa said. Often times, she said her husband would repair roofs for free for other veterans.

Unfortunately on Sept. 11, Eddie took a bad fall, falling 25-feet through a skylight to the concrete. That fall broke his back, mangled his right arm, broke his ribs and gave him severe head trauma.

“There is no rational explanation why he is alive,” Melissa said.

The only explanation is this man is a true Marine having nothing but muscle before he fell.

“That was probably what saved his life,” she said. “That he was in good shape at the time of the accident.”

Although the past few months have been extremely trying, Melissa said she is thankful.

“We have such a long road ahead of us,” she said. “At the end of the day I am so blessed because I have my husband and Keygan still has a dad.”

After Lee Memorial Health System let him go because of insurance purposes after the accident, Melissa took her husband to the VA clinic in Cape Coral. Once the ER doctor looked at Eddie, he immediately called an ambulance and rushed him to Bay Pines VA Healthcare System.

While he was at Bay Pines he spent time going to a speech pathologist, physical therapist and occupation therapist.

Eddie returned home Friday, Oct. 17, after spending two months in the hospital.

“They absolutely love him up there,” Melissa said. “They were so good to him. I knew he was in the absolute best care. They treated him like gold. He had such good doctors. They were just awesome.”

Because his case is so complex, Eddie has to travel to Bay Pines to continue the therapy two days a week, which completely wears him out. The trip wears him out because since the accident, Eddie suffers from extreme vertigo, causing his head to spin constantly. He has also experienced a lot of weakness in his right arm.

“Head trauma is the worst,” Melissa said. “Normal every day thinking is a multi-choir for him. He has severe memory loss.”

Purdy became a member of Wounded Warrior Anglers when the organization first began because it is an organization that he really believes in without question.

“I met them at Miceli’s two years ago,” he said of the founders Judy and Dave Souders. “They were selling tickets for the original raffle boat. I was very impressed with Dave and Judy with their vision and commitment.”

Purdy served in the U.S. Calvary from 1973 to 1976 before his knee was destroyed during a training exercise in Germany in 1976.

Campbell, a founder of another nonprofit organization in Southwest Florida, spent his time focusing on fund-raising, paying tribute to veterans and helping them in their time of need. After the founders of Wounded Warrior Anglers asked him if he would like to be a committee member for the Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund, he was on board.

Campbell said he was excited after meeting the Souders because they gave him another avenue in which he could help veterans. That avenue being PTSD.

“It always feels good to help out veterans,” Campbell said. “I enjoy doing it. I don’t do it for recognition. I come from a long line of veterans in my family. It has always been in the blood.”

‘She is an angel’

Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund changed the lives of a couple and their one-year old son, Keygan, Wednesday, Oct. 22, when the organization donated $1,200 to Melissa and Eddie Breese.

Kevin Purdy, Melissa Breese, Judy Souders, Keith Campbell and Eddie Breese.

Wounded Warrior Anglers Acts of Kindness Committee Member Kevin Purdy, Melissa Breese, Wounded Warrior Anglers Vice President Judy Souders, Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund Committee Member Keith Campbell and Eddie Breese.

“I didn’t even see the amount on the check until after they left,” Melissa said the following day. “Eddie looked at it and I seen tears in his eyes as they were walking out the door. He handed me the check . . . what can I say . . . it was amazing.”

Although the family recently lost their home, among other things, Melissa said people like the Wounded Warrior Anglers really came through for them, helping them see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Wounded Warrior Anglers just paid our first month’s rent,” Melissa said, adding that the donation also helped with putting down a deposit for their electric.

Wounded Warrior Anglers Vice President Judy Souders and Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund Committee Members Kevin Purdy and Keith Campbell presented the family with the check donation.

“This avenue for Wounded Warrior Anglers can be powerful for our community and the outreach we can do,” Souders said.

Melissa said they are beyond thankful.

“She is an angel,” she said of Souders.

“I thank God for all the help and all the good hearted people that have really come through for us,” Melissa said. “I don’t even know how to begin to tell you . . . there are so many wonderful people.”

The Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund became a part of the organization on Oct. 14. The fund was created to provide appropriate relief to eligible veterans or disabled veterans who experience a qualifying event or emergency.

“I think it is a fabulous thing that Wounded Warrior Anglers is doing,” Purdy said. “I feel very blessed to be a part of it.”

The Breese family was the first to benefit from the newly established fund because of a recent hardship they are experiencing.

Eddie, a Fort Myers High School graduate, enlisted in the Marine Corps and served in Desert Storm from 1988 to 1992. After returning from the service he started working on roofs, while owning his own business at one time.

“We have always been the ones to help others,” Melissa said.

Often times, she said her husband would repair roofs for free for other veterans.

Unfortunately on Sept. 11, Eddie took a bad fall, falling 25-feet through a sky light to the concrete. That fall broke his back, mangled his right arm, broke his ribs and gave him severe head trauma.

“There is no rational explanation why he is alive,” Melissa said.

The only explanation is this man is a true Marine having nothing but muscle before he fell.

“That was probably what saved his life,” she said. “That he was in good shape at the time of the accident.”

Although the past few months have been extremely trying, Melissa said she is thankful.

“We have such a long road ahead of us,” she said. “At the end of the day I am so blessed because I have my husband and Keygan still has a dad.”

After Lee Memorial Health System let him go because of insurance purposes after the accident, Melissa took her husband to the VA clinic in Cape Coral. Once the ER doctor looked at Eddie, he immediately called an ambulance and rushed him to Bay Pines VA Healthcare System.

While he was at Bay Pines he spent time going to a speech pathologist, physical therapist and occupation therapist.

Eddie returned home on Friday, Oct. 17, after spending two months in the hospital.

“They absolutely love him up there,” Melissa said. “They were so good to him. I knew he was in the absolute best care. They treated him like gold. He had such good doctors. They were just awesome.”

Because his case is so complex, Eddie has to travel to Bay Pines to continue the therapy two days a week, which completely wears him out.

The trip wears him out because since the accident, Eddie suffers from extreme vertigo, causing his head to spin constantly. He has also experienced a lot of weakness in his right arm.

“Head trauma is the worst,” Melissa said. “Normal every day thinking is a multi-choir for him. He has severe memory loss.”

WWA Acts of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund

Behind the scenes:

Purdy became a member of Wounded Warrior Anglers when the organization first began because it is an organization that he really believes in without question.

“I met them at Miceli’s two years ago,” he said of the founders Judy and Dave Souders. “They were selling tickets for the original raffle boat. I was very impressed with Dave and Judy with their vision and commitment.”

Purdy served in the U.S. Calvary from 1973 to 1976 before his knee was destroyed during a training exercise in Germany in 1976.

Campbell, a founder of another nonprofit organization in Southwest Florida, spent his time focusing on fundraising, paying tribute to veterans and helping them in their time of need. After the founders of Wounded Warrior Anglers asked him if he would like to be a committee member for the Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund he was on board.

Campbell said he was excited after meeting the Souders because they gave him another avenue in which he could help veterans. That avenue being PTSD.

“It always feels good to help out veterans,” Campbell said. “I enjoy doing it. I don’t do it for recognition. I come from a long line of veterans in my family. It has always been in the blood.”

Wounded Warrior Anglers of America, Inc. was founded in 2012 by Dave and his wife Judy Souders. Its mission is to “help rehabilitate the mind, body and soul of all service members who have been injured, wounded or disabled in the line of duty no matter what their era of service.”

The organization helps its warriors by taking them out on the water for a day of fishing. This outing helps promote a friendly and peaceful environment to help warriors heal.

Wounded Warrior Anglers also help the warrior’s caregivers by treating them to a day of relaxation at the spa.

http://woundedwarrioranglers.org/

To read past blogs about Wounded Warrior Anglers visit: https://meghan80.wordpress.com/wounded-warrior-anglers-of-america-inc/

A year of changing lives

June 1 marked the one year anniversary for Wounded Warrior Anglers of America, a nonprofit organization that is changing the lives of our service men and women and their caregivers.

I had the honor of meeting Dave for the first time last June at an event held in Matlacha, FL. His vision and excitement for an organization that is near and dear to his heart poured out of him as he told me what his mission was and what he hoped to accomplish.

battle of matlachaAn excerpt from my blog “Hearts of Gold” . . .

The concept of the organization formed after David was injured in 2008 while he was in the service. The serenity of fishing, along with his wife Judy, helped him get through the difficult times during his injury and healing process.

Dave served in the Marines from 1985-1992, before going into the reserves from 1992-1995. He then served in the Air National Guard in 2006 and medically retired on May 31, 2012. In 2008, he was injured while in the service.

Military life runs very deep in this gentleman’s family, due to members of his family serving since the Revolutionary War.

His love of fishing and passion for helping others turned into something bigger while he was rehabbing himself through injury. Dave always says since he is out on the water fishing, why not bring other wounded warriors with him to share the sense of relaxation and escape from every and any stressor that goes hand-in-hand with an injury.

End of excerpt … which was written on Jan. 4.

Soon after meeting Dave, I met his wife Judy on another assignment where a lifelong friendship instantly formed.

This woman has been Dave’s caretaker for more than 20 years, which in itself is a beautiful thing.

I have experienced so many great moments, so many great conversations and met so many incredible wounded warriors and their caregivers since that initial conversation with the co-founders. My life has become enriched in numerous ways, all because I am a part of an organization that does so much for others.

Now looking back, I am proud to say I have experienced almost every step of the way during this past year with the co-founders of this wonderful organization. Their “hearts of gold” are constantly forming new ides to continue to help these men and women who have kept us safe while serving in one of the branches of our military.

I remember receiving a phone call from Judy many months ago sharing an exciting phone call Dave received out of the blue. That phone call led to a very special day for this couple last week.

A tremendous contribution was given to this organization a day before their first year anniversary, so Judy and Dave can further help those in need.

Wounded Warrior Anglers Member Guy Lee, Caregiver Rosa Vazquez, Wounded Warrior Angel Vazquez, Wounded Warrior Anglers Co-Founder David Souders, Seafarers International Union Port Agent Kris Hopkins, Wounded Warrior Anglers Co-Founder Judy Souders, Wounded Warrior Anglers Board Member Tony “The Judge” Rogers.

Wounded Warrior Anglers Member Guy Lee, Caregiver Rosa Vazquez, Wounded Warrior Angel Vazquez, Wounded Warrior Anglers Co-Founder David Souders, Seafarers International Union Port Agent Kris Hopkins, Wounded Warrior Anglers Co-Founder Judy Souders, Wounded Warrior Anglers Board Member Tony “The Judge” Rogers.

Seafarers International Union Port Agent Kris Hopkins donated $20,000 to Wounded Warrior Anglers, funds collected from a tournament they held at their school in Maryland earlier this year.I decided to call Kris, so I could interview him for an article I was working on for the Eagle. I wanted to share with the entire community what took place at the Olde Fish House Marina on Friday.

A quote that stood out to me during our interview, one that I included in the article . . .

“I think it is important that we recognize the people that have served our country and became injured and critically disabled,” Hopkins said. “It is important that we give back to them.”

This donation, this generous offer, all came about because Seafarers International Union Executive Board Member George Tricker decided to make Wounded Warrior Anglers the recipient of the inaugural event.

Dave and Judy said they were initially excited because Seafarers International Union wanted to include some of their wounded warriors in the tournament – a day for these men and women to spend out on the water fishing.

Never in their wildest dreams did they expect to receive a donation, let alone a donation of that magnitude.

When I talked to Judy and Dave Saturday they were still speechless from the donation.

“We still are really overwhelmed with the generosity of what these folks have done for the origination,” Judy said in a quote that was added in the Pine Island Eagle article.

Judy and Dave’s voices were filled with so much emotion and pure joy . . . Although we were not talking face-to-face, I could hear the smilies spread across their faces, the smile that remained during our entire conversation.

This donation will only help them further serve the wounded warriors and caregivers during their retreat. The money will allow them to continue to buy rods and reels, a gift to the men and women to take home once they are done with their fishing outing, as well as covering the cost of housing while they are in town.

The Warrior and Caregiver Retreat is a beautiful event that brings together individuals while treating them to a stress free day. My heart is always filled with extreme joy after attending one of these functions because of the laughter, conversations and friendships that are formed.

I truly look forward to witnessing what transpires during the Wounded Warrior Anglers second year, especially now that I am a board member. It’s amazing to be a part of something that is incredibly special, something that brings so much joy to an individuals life who has suffered so much while keeping us safe.

Here is too many more years of helping others and expanding this wonderful organization, Wounded Warrior Anglers.

“Changing lives one warrior at a time.”

For more information visit http://www.woundedwarrioranglers.org.