‘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.

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.