‘It was pretty uplifting’

‘It was pretty uplifting’

A brand new program was introduced to the Wounded Warrior Anglers organization due to networking Chapter 4 – Mahi Strike Group Commandant Chief Buck McTee initiated with the American Tackle Company International.

“I am a resourceful guy,” the active duty Navy gentleman said. “I used the resources out there. Once we got it going, the guys up there, they were on point with everything.”

McTee began the Wounded Warrior Angler chapter in Fort Lauderdale because of a fellow Wounded Warrior Angler Capt. Jim Conant.

“His story is what moved me and I was like, these are the kind of guys I can sign on with and be okay with it and run with it and be excited about it,” McTee said.

He said his goal with the brand new chapter is bringing out the guys that are dealing with PTSD and injuries and get them into something.

His goal is to “pay it forward.”

One way in paying it forward began the Handcrafted Rod Program, which was held in Oviedo, Florida, Friday, April 10, through Sunday, April 12.

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Don Morse with American Tackle Company International Inc. said the three day event began on Friday, April 10 with an introduction and meet and greet, so everyone had the chance to get to know one another. He said some history, as well as some information about building rods, was also shared that Friday.

Since one of their instructors is a chef, he barbecued a “whole heap of chicken” for everyone to enjoy later that night.

“It was a good time,” Morse said.

The following morning around 8 a.m., 13 warriors of Wounded Warrior Anglers attended the workshop. All of the supplies to build the rods were donated for the event.

“It was excellent, well worth the time. It was great,” Army veteran Kevin Crowder said.

Crowder joined the Army in 2008 because he felt it was something he was supposed to do as an able body to serve at least one term. He served until 2012.

“It felt good to serve,” Crowder said, although it was not always enjoyable all the time. “I made a lot of brothers and I miss a lot of them.”

A sense of accomplishment washed over Crowder as he finished building his rod, especially with how tedious some of the work was.

“It was pretty uplifting,” he said about the want to build something.

The instructors helped the warriors build the rods from start to finish from around 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

“It is a time involved task,” Morse said. “After you do so many it gets easier.”

Crowder said the instructors told them how to build a rod from ground up. He said he absorbed how to build it rather quickly due to the simplified instruction.

“It is something we can carry on and keep going,” Crowder said.

McTee also built a rod during the workshop for his wife. He said when he feels good enough about his product he will present it to another military member during an event.

On Sunday the warriors applied the epoxy clear coat over the thread to finish off the finished product.

Morse said he saw a lot of smiles that Saturday, which was fantastic. He said he also had the pleasure of seeing a lot of the guys sharing their stories one-on-one during the workshop.

Wounded Warrior Anglers Founder and President David Souders said he was thrilled to see many  of the guys  open up to the instructors.

“We had guys opening up to these guys within a couple of hours in teaching them,” he said. “You don’t ever see that. Their guards were down . . . walls and barriers were coming down. It was a phenomenal event.”

The workshop provided the warriors with a new skill they can continue to use.

Morse said if they want to keep going with it they know how to build or rod, or if they do not, they still have a rod that they can show people they built with their own hands.

“I think they will go forward and build some nice rods and supplement their income,” Morse said.

He said although you do not build custom rods to save money, it can be done inexpensively. An individual can purchase all the parts to build a rod for under $60, which will provide the ability to fish for anything.

“Custom building price is more than you pay in the store,” Morse said, adding that when building a rod “you get a rod that performs better than one made in the factory.”

McTee said he cannot say enough great things about the Handcrafted Rod Program. He said he hopes within the next 12 months they will be able to host a rod building event in Southeast Florida

“All these guys spent their whole adult life working for the military,” McTee said working missions, having a purpose and drive to get things done. “They don’t have that camaraderie and the structure (after serving). “We take them and say, ‘hey here is this fishing rod. I need you to build this, here is some instruction and here are guys that will help you.’ I think it’s great.”

Crowder, who lives south of Jacksonville, goes out fishing every chance he gets. He said he now hopes to buy the equipment to build his own rods.

“(I will) start building a few a week or a few a month and see how it goes when I start off,” he said.

Crowder plans on setting up shop in his brother’s garage, so he can invite guys from his Wounded Warrior Anglers chapter to share the knowledge he now knows of building rods. He said one of the goals of attending the workshop was to soak in all the knowledge and pass it on to other guys.

“I’m glad they picked me to pass it on to the other guys,” he said. “I feel pretty confident with it.”

Crowder said his new skill will bring him and his brother closer because he too wants to start building rods.

Morse said they are already in the planning stages of holding another Handcrafted Rod Program event in Matlacha in either September or October.

“I’m definitely looking forward to helping them out as much as we can and working with them with sponsorships,” he said of the Wounded Warrior Anglers organization.

Morse said brainstorming sessions have already begun on creating decals made with the Wounded Warrior Anglers logo with built in USA by a specific wounded warrior’s name.

“With me being an angler and being in the fishing industry, I love seeing something like this geared to fishing,” he said of Wounded Warrior Anglers, which helps guys putting their lives on the line to protect this country. “It’s all I can think about . . . the next step with them.”

Morse said he looks forward to working with the organization because the relationship he has already made with the guys is spectacular.

“I’m looking forward to keeping the communication open and doing some fishing with them,” he said.

Wounded Warrior Anglers of America, Inc. was founded in 2012 by David 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.”

‘Tee Up for Heroes’ to benefit WWA

A fundraiser for Wounded Warrior Anglers will be held on Monday, Nov. 10, at Pelican’s Nest Golf Club, at Pelican Landings in Bonita Springs.

battle of matlachaKathy Swift, who is putting together the event, said the golf tournament, “Tee Up for Heroes,” is completely filled as of Monday, Oct. 20. She said they have 30 foursome teams participating.

Wounded Warrior Anglers Vice President Judy Souders said they have 10 veterans golfing in the tournament, as well as six veterans volunteering the day of the event.

“We are literally maxed out. For the first one here we are doing fine,” Swift said. “Hopefully next year, since this is the first time, we will be able to use both courses.”

The inaugural “Tee Up for Heroes” golf tournament begins at 12:30 p.m.

It will include MREs, meals ready to eat, for the golfers, to keep with the theme of the day, honoring veterans.

“A lot of these guys when they are out in battle they carry these MREs because they can be gone for a few days,” Swift explained. “So they open these packets up and that’s their meal.”

On the day of the tournament, the golfers will receive their very own MREs, or a boxed lunch, of a chicken wrap, fruit, cookies and a drink.

Instead of having the normal flag at each hole on the golf course, kids will be standing at each hole with an American flag.

The dinner, which will begin around 5 p.m., will include hors d’oeuvre, the main course, a drink, entertainment and a silent auction.

Tickets are $60 per person and can be purchased at http://www.woundedwarrioranglers.org, or by calling Swift at (239) 948-8478.

Swift said she has room for approximately 50 more people.

Former private musician of President Eisenhower, John Felice, will provide the entertainment during dinner. Felice, who performed in the Navy band is 83 years old.

“Boy can he play,” she said.

The Pelican Landing Singers will also perform patriotic songs, as well as songs for each branch of the military.

The silent auction will include such items as paintings, golf certificates, a cruise, a three-day trip to the Kentucky Derby with all expenses paid, baskets of wine, and two dinners for six people at two different homes.

All of the proceeds from the tournament and dinner will be donated to Wounded Warrior Anglers.

“Wounded Warrior Anglers is very honored and fortunate to have that committee from Pelicans Nest Golf community to represent us and honor our veterans,” Souders said. “In turn Wounded Warrior Anglers can honor more wounded warriors through our organization.”

Although this is the fourth tournament Swift has held for wounded warriors, this is the first one she is hosting in honor of Wounded Warrior Anglers.

“Keith Campbell told me about Wounded Warrior Anglers,” she said.

Swift said she got started with the fundraisers because of her son Michael who was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.

“(When) I got started, my son was a wounded warrior, but at the time I did not know it,” Swift said. “All these guys need our support.”

After hearing about her son having traumatic brain injury, it inspired her to keep going, so she can continue to help wounded warriors.

Over the years, through National Coalition for Patriots, she has helped raise money for Corey Kent, a Cape Coral resident who stepped on an IED while deployed in Afghanistan.

“He was at Walter Reed for almost three years,” she said.

She also helped raise funds for wounded warrior Josh Harwig, who her son Michael knows. With the help of the community, they raised enough for a $62,000 Toyota Tundra in three and a half weeks to help with transportation because his wife was having a baby.

Dave and Judy Souders, founders of Wounded Warrior Anglers.

Dave and Judy Souders, founders of Wounded Warrior Anglers.

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.

“That event itself was life changing”

The life of one medically retired United States Marine changed forever after coming into contact with the nonprofit organization Wounded Warrior Anglers of America, Inc.

“I believe it’s an outstanding organization that is perfect right now for the pulse of America and the veteran community,” Peter Paskewicz, a Cape Coral, Florida resident, said. “It’s a little niche not found out there.”

Approximately six months ago, Paskewicz paid a visit to his local bait store, which resulted in an invitation to talk to the organization after asking about other veterans in the area that enjoyed fishing. He said he happened to be in the store when Dave Souders, co-founder of the organization, was also there.

“That is basically how I really got connected,” Paskewicz said.

He joined the Marines and served for three years during the first Gulf Wars from 1990 to 1993.

“I was with some very outstanding people and I know that the Marines made a positive influence on my life,” he said. “I wish I could go back. I love it.”

Paskewicz sustained lower extremity injuries, some of which include a lower back injury from a fall and a shattered hip.

He said since he has some physical problems, he wanted to get to know other veterans who liked to fish, a passion he found when he was a youngster.

“I enjoy the environment,” Paskewicz said of why he loves fishing. “I believe we are connected to the water in one way. If the water is healthy, I believe the rest of the environment is healthy.”

Before medically retiring from the service, he said fishing had always been his most private and personal time where he could reflect back on the good in his life, as well as allow all the negative things to fade away.

As a wounded warrior who loves fishing, Wounded Warrior Anglers was a perfect match for this gentleman.

battle of matlachaThe organization helps its warriors by taking them out on the water for a day of fishing, an outing that promotes a friendly and peaceful environment to help warriors heal.

“I think the Wounded Warrior Anglers provides a platform that is easy for people to meet and greet one another,” Paskewicz said.

He said the commonality and disability portion of the organization really brings everything together, making Wounded Warrior Anglers what it is today.

He said after leaving the service, fishing provided a new kind of therapy.

“It made me feel like I am still capable of doing things, still capable of accomplishing goals,” Paskewicz said. “It gives me a sense of achievement.”

Wounded Warrior Anglers holds a few retreats throughout the year that invites wounded warriors and their caregivers to Matlacha, Florida, for a day of relaxation on the water fishing, or at Spa 33, with others who have gone through similar experiences.

“That was a very important day for me and my family,” Paskewicz said of the retreat he attended about two months ago. “I had been struggling with medications and pain for about six and a half years and not feeling very good about fishing or anything.”

Once this wounded warrior received an invitation to his first retreat, it provided him with the freedom to go out fishing, while knowing he was not alone, knowing he was going to be with other wounded warriors.

“That event itself was life changing for me,” he said. “I have a whole new attitude. It was absolutely what I needed.”

That single day of camaraderie, that one day of sharing a love of fishing with others, has kept positive thoughts flowing through Paskewicz.

“I’m very grateful for the Wounded Warriors and I feel strongly that it is something really needed in our communities today for our veterans and community members as well,” he said. “It brings veterans closer to the community and the community closer to the veterans. I think it is an outstanding platform.”

Paskewicz recently volunteered at the organization’s 2nd annual Redfish Poker Fishing Championship, in memory of Sgt. John R. Pestel, last month. He said he provided a helping hand in the morning to set things up and whatever else was needed to show support.

“I was approached by at least 100 people that day, all thanking me for my service,” he said.

Those words touched this Marine.

“It was an honor,” Paskewicz said. “It made me feel proud and glad I served for people like them. That was a very special day in itself also. The civilians got to interact with the veterans and I think it was great

A veteran’s words

“I think the organization, as of right now, is perfect,” Donald Cyr of Vero Beach said Thursday afternoon.

That organization is Wounded Warrior Anglers of America, Inc., a nonprofit that was founded in 2012 by Dave and 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.”

Donald, who is currently in his 30’s, served in the Marine Corps., as well as the Army for a total of 7 1/2 years. He said joining the Marines was something he thought about and looked forward to while in high school.

“I got into the Marines and then the war was about to begin and I wanted to be a part of it,” he said, adding that the Army took him first.

He left the Marine Corps in January 2003 and “jumped” into the Army in March 2003. Donald was deployed three times, all in Baghdad, Iraq.

Luckily, he did not suffer any physical injuries during his service. With that said, he still suffers from the trauma of the war, the emotional and psychological aspect. Donald said seeing his friends go through the whole process of getting injured was and still is difficult.

It’s an ongoing battle, one that he said will be there forever.

When talking about his service, the word “camaraderie” was expressed on many occasions. Donald said the Marine Corps and the Army are like two brothers – you feel a part of a family, a rather large family.

Donald is still in contact with those he went to war with. He said he moved to Vero Beach because of a friend he served with. That friend also introduced him to Judy and Dave about a year ago.

battle of matlachaThis is where the beauty of Wounded Warrior Anglers of America comes into play . . .  this organization is another form of a family, one that continues to improve the lives of everyone it touches.

Donald said it is great to see and meet the two people who run the organization – Judy and Dave. He expressed that many times you do not know the people who are behind the organization.

“They are a little more homey,” he said of Judy and Dave. “It feels like family to me, just because they are part of that organization. They are actually a part of it and they are there and making sure things are running well. I think it’s a really good way to do it. Other organizations you have programs that you really don’t know what’s going on.”

The homey, family oriented atmosphere that Judy and Dave provide, was the reason Donald wanted to show his daughter what Wounded Warrior Anglers is all about.

Donald had the privilege of experiencing the program Wounded Warrior Anglers offers first hand again last month with his 14-year-old daughter. He was treated to a two-day retreat out on the water fishing with Dave and his daughter.

He recalls those two days being therapeutic and very relaxing.

“It can also be a lot of fun, especially when you are catching fish,” Donald said.

He shared that the first time he was taken out on a retreat he enjoyed the ability to talk to his fellow veterans about anything – life in general – what’s going on in each of their lives.

“That’s really what it is all about,” Donald said.

Although he did not catch anything last month, his daughter did – two red fish and a couple of catfish. Donald said after that day, his daughter told him she understood why he goes fishing, that it was so nice and calm.

“That’s why I wanted to bring her out there,” he said, adding he also wanted that bonding time with his daughter.

Before we ended our conversation, Donald expressed that he wanted to thank everyone that is part of the organization.

“I know Judy and Dave work very hard to put this stuff together and also the people that you don’t see that make all the effort as well,” he said. “I want to thank them . . . let them know I am thankful.”

This is just one wounded warrior the organization has touched. These stories warm my heart and give me a sense of joy because some of their trauma was taken away for an extended amount of time.

Thank you Donald for your service, thank you for fighting for our freedom.

Now a board member

battle of matlacha

Friday night I received an exciting call from my dear friend Judy, a friend who began an outstanding organization with her husband Dave.

That phone call shared some great news – the existing board of directors voted me in as their newest board member for Wounded Warrior Anglers. Wow, I am beyond proud and honored to be a part of this wonderful organization that does tremendous things for our soldiers.

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

Dave has told me since day one, why not bring other wounded warriors with him out fishing to share the sense of relaxation and escape from every and any stressors that go hand-in-hand with an injury? This wonderful concept and dedication to help others turned into an organization, a 501c3 organization, that is now a year old.

Over the past year I have had the pleasure of meeting many men and women who have served in the military because of this organization. Many who have touched me in ways that I will never be able to fully explain – many of which left tears in my eyes.

One of those individuals is Travis Downes, a man who served in the Army from 2000 to 2006. He was stationed at Fort Stewart in Georgia. While serving he had two combat deployments, both on the front line for a year at a time.

I was the editor of the Pine Island Eagle in Southwest Florida the first time I met Travis, while working on an article about a business where he is employed. Our encounters became more frequent after that, especially when I became involved in the organization. Our conversations also become more fluent as our friendship grew. Now, with the convenience of Facebook, we stay in touch throughout the week.

Wounded Warrior Anglers hosts retreats a few times a year to treat our wounded warriors and their caregivers to a day full of relaxation. As the warriors are taken out on the boat for a day of fishing, their caregivers spend a day at the spa for a day full of pampering.

Travis said he really enjoys the retreats because it gives him the opportunity to meet other warriors, some of which he still stays in contact with to this day. The retreat also gives him the opportunity to relax which is  beneficial because of some of the injuries he is faced with on a daily basis –  PTSD, hearing impairment and mild traumatic brain injury.

I have personally seen the state of relaxation these soldiers are in once they return to the docks at the Olde Fish House Marina in Matlacha, Florida. It’s almost like all of their daily stresses, pains and worries disappear, which is an amazing site to see.

I am beyond thrilled to be a part of Wounded Warrior Anglers for many of the reasons I have stated above. What better way to give back to those who have put their lives on the line to make sure we stay safe then to be personally involved as a board of director for an organization who serves them?

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.

A number of goodbyes

The last few days have been wonderful and of course emotional, as we fill the moments of our days with friends and family before we move.

Last night was a perfect example of spending time with friends and family, as we all gathered at Jason’s parent’s house for our going away party.

It was an incredible night full of laughter and many unexpected presents, as well as a few surprise guests.

I’m grateful that Jen and Ed opened up their home, so we could all gather in one place. Everything was perfect, the food was good, the company was excellent and the thoughtfulness was heartwarming.

At one point of the night, Jason walked up to me and put his arm around me. The squeeze and look said it all … we really have some special friends. The farewell party really was a great way to bring some of those people who have impacted our lives together.

One of the highlights of the night was of course the time I got to spend with Dorene. What a truly great friendship, one that has only grown since I moved back to Fort Myers from Arizona. This beautiful individual has been so instrumental in helping me through the stresses of our move. Every and anytime I needed her she was a phone call, text or visit away. A friendship I will always be grateful for. The best part of our goodbye, was it wasn’t our last one. Dorene is coming by tomorrow to help me clean, wow, what an incredible friend.

As the night went on, more individuals stopped by and spent a few minutes or hours with us as they shared our excitement for the move. So many good wishes filled this already warm house, which only left me with so much joy.

Jason and I have so many wonderful friends, so many thoughtful friends who are truly excited for us. The gifts, which of course was a surprise, blew us away, again how thoughtful.

Last night left me feeling loved …

Today of course that feeling only intensified …

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Dave and Judy treated Jason and I to a day out on the water … fishing and enjoying one another’s company.

As Jason and I left the house, my emotions and nerves were sky high. As soon as we stepped on the boat and got comfortable, those feelings started to subside as Judy and I instantly began a conversation.

As the afternoon went on, I felt like a new person. All the worries about the move disappeared as the boat gently rocked back and forth from time to time, all while breathing in the fresh air. There is something about being outside that calms any and every nerve. What great therapy. It was extremely relaxing to be on the water with three very important people in my life.

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The best part was I caught the first fish and two out of the three that were caught. Although they were only catfish, it was still a great feeling for me!

After some time out on the water, we went back in and began our goodbyes. Although I knew this goodbye was going to be difficult, I didn’t anticipate the tears to flow as much as they did when I finally sat down in the car and reflected on everything that took place this afternoon. 

All the sweet words that Judy whispered as we hugged filled my eyes with tears, while warming my heart. It’s a beautiful thing to watch and feel a friendship grow. This woman has been my other go to person as we planned our move. So many wonderful conversations, so many incredible memories and so many helpful words as things became to overwhelming.

Dave and Judy, you gave us a wonderful gift, a day of relaxation before we pack everything into the U-Haul pod and head to Tennessee.

This past week has filled me with so many emotions, so many memories, so many sweet words that will stay with me forever.

The best part of this past week is the closeness I feel with my boyfriend. I love how we are growing together as we finalize everything to put this move into motion on Tuesday. I love this man with all of my heart … oh my goodness how do I love this man. I know this move is the right thing for us … 

Tomorrow is our last day in Fort Myers. One more day of goodbyes before our next adventure begins, a day of goodbyes that I know will leave me an emotional mess. 

One more day … the countdown is finally coming to an end.