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.
I was fortunate enough to meet Dave at an event I was covering for the Pine Island Eagle, a weekly newspaper in Southwest Florida, shortly after the idea to form the organization came to fruition. My life continues to be touched by this couple and the organization they formed. With that said, I am proud to be a board member, I am proud to have the opportunity to further the organization’s mission of helping our wounded warriors.
The inspiration comes frequently, which is why there are quite a few blogs listed below. Take a look and spread the word about Wounded Warrior Anglers.
The first blog, “Hearts of Gold,” written on Jan. 4, 2013
Dave’s 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.
The second blog, “Beautiful friendship,” written on Feb. 23, 2013
This woman has a heart of gold and a smile that brightens any room. She has such a positive outlook on life and always has a great story or joke to warm your heart making you smile.
Although some people come and go throughout a lifetime, I know this friendship will remain constant no matter where our future takes us.
The third blog, “An uplifting friendship,” written on March 28, 2013
Senator Lizabeth Benacquisto sent Judy and her husband a letter in the mail, which included an article I wrote about their organization Wounded Warrior Anglers of America, Inc.
I was beyond excited when I read what Senator Benacquisto wrote for the simple fact that she learned about this wonderful organization – Wounded Warrior Anglers – through my writing!! I felt honored and touched beyond belief. The smile that spread across my face, still did not give the emotions I was feeling justice.
Senator Benacquisto wrote “Congratulations, I noticed this story in the paper the other day. I thought you might like an extra copy, so one is enclosed.”
The fourth blog, “Blessed,” written on March 31, 2013
It started off with catching up with two incredible people while I covered an event for work. This couple – Judy and Dave – know how to brighten my day and mood.
As we were talking, laughing and sharing hugs they asked if I would like to be a member of their board as their media person.
I am flattered, honored and overjoyed that they asked me – that they thought of me to fill that spot.
I believe in their organization Wounded Warrior Anglers with my entire heart and soul. Those feelings are so strong because of their passion for helping other men and women.
The fifth blog, “Heartwarming experience,” written on April 14, 2013
The moments I shared with Angel, who served in the Army for 26 ½ years, tugged at my heart. As we sat there, he shared a few stories of when he was deployed, which truly meant a lot to me.
Before I said goodbye, I thanked him. He instantly asked what did I do? I said you served our country and fought for our freedom. The emotion he shared at that moment will be a part of me forever. It still gives me goose bumps as I sit and write about it now. These men and women who join the service do not do it anticipating a thank you from us civilians, but rather because something called them to that job.
The honesty in Angel’s eyes touched me in a way I cannot explain. I told him just know that you are appreciated before I shook his hand once again.
The sixth blog, “A year of changing lives,” written on June 3, 2013
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 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.
The seventh blog, “Now a board member,” written on Sept. 1, 2013
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 eighth blog, “A veteran’s words,” written on Sept. 5, 2013
Donald 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.
The ninth blog, “Meet the WWA board of directors,” written on Oct. 30, 2013
“I feel that just by being around other veterans and going out to go fishing or hunting or just doing something with them, I have improved my life,” Kevin Santos said. “I am getting better at coping with stress and my PTSD just because I know that nothing will ever happen that will spark a relapse or a flashback while I am with them, they have my back and I have theirs.”
“I enjoy the opportunity to interact with the warriors and to give them a positive experience. As a combat veteran from Vietnam, I served as an infantry officer and pilot. I know something of what these folks bring home with them and the nation was not as welcoming in my era, so I am happy to provide a better experience. The guys I have taken out have a wide range of challenges including extensive TBI, amputations and early onset dementia relating to IED’s,” Tony Rogers said.
The tenth blog, “Win a boat while helping WWA,” written on Nov. 8, 2013
The 21-foot boat is a 2014, NauticStar 2110 Sport Bay with a 115 horse power Yamaha F115 with a 92-inch beam. It also has a magic tilt trailer and such added features as stainless steel props, 7×7 bow seat base, swim platform with a ladder, single battery switch and two gunnel rod holders.
The boat, motor and trailer packages is valued at approximately $39,627.
Three thousand tickets were printed for the raffle, which are $20 a piece or six for $100. The raffle tickets can be purchased online at www.woundedwarrioranglers.org or by calling Judy Souders, vice president of Wounded Warrior Anglers, at 423-620-9104.
The winner of the boat raffle will be announced no later than May 26, 2014 at the Olde Fish House Marina, 4350 Pine Island Rd., Matlacha, Florida. The winner need not be present to win. The winner is responsible for the tag, title, delivery, dealer prep, registration and all applicable taxes.
“This is our largest fundraiser that pairs with the tournament on Memorial Day weekend,” Souders said of the Original Redfish Poker Fishing Championship. “This is how we raise funds to provide the Wounded Warrior and Caregiver Retreat for warriors, caregivers, spouses and children.”
The eleventh blog, “New chapters take off for WWA,” written on March 17, 2014
The nonprofit organization recently added two new chapters to the cause, which in turn is helping more of our wounded warriors.
Chapter 001, The “Matlacha Redfish Regiment,” was nationally chartered and formed on Feb. 10, 2014. David is the commandant and James Conant is the executive officer of the chapter.
The second chapter, “Port Charlotte/North Port Area,” will cover Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, Englewood, Bradenton, North Port, Sarasota and Venice. Once the chapter receives more members and sponsorships it will go full blast.
The twelfth blog, “It was grand,” written on June 3, 2014
The 2nd annual Redfish Poker Fishing Championship, in memory of Sgt. John R. Pestel, was a huge success for the nonprofit organization, Wounded Warrior Anglers, this past Memorial Day weekend.
“I think it was grand,” Judy Souders, co-founder of Wounded Warrior Anglers said after the event. “The tournament was 100 percent successful. It raised good money for Wounded Warrior Anglers and that’s why we did the tournament.”
The thirteenth blog, “That event itself was life changing,” written on June 11, 2014
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.”
The fourteenth blog, “Tee Up for Heroes to benefit WWA,” written on Oct. 20, 2014
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.
The fifteenth blog, “She is an angel,” written on Oct. 25, 2014
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.
The sixteenth blog, “A pure fishing boat,” written on Nov. 8, 2014
It’s that time of year again . . . the organization Wounded Warrior Anglers is raffling another boat, which will support America’s disabled veterans.
This year the 2015 NauticStar 2110 Sport, said to be a pure fishing boat, has a price tag of $55,350,000.
There are 4,000 raffle tickets available this year, 1,000 more than previous years.
The seventeenth blog, “Our Christmas comes from our heart,” written on Dec. 18, 2014.
A Cape Coral family received a little holiday cheer Wednesday night from the Wounded Warrior Anglers Act of Kindness Emergency Relief Fund to help them through some financial hardships.
“With all of our warriors that are members, board members, volunteers and everybody that donates and makes Wounded Warrior Anglers possible, I want them to know that they are part of helping somebody come through the month of December financially,” Wounded Warrior Anglers Vice President Judy Souders said. “I want them to know they are a part of that. All of us coming together over the last three years have made this possible. Everybody coming together and doing a little here and a little bit there has all added up.”
The eighteenth blog: “WWA gearing up for annual touranment,” written on April 7, 2015.
Anglers will soon hit the water in Matlacha for the annual Wounded Warrior Anglers fishing tournament to raise funds to further support wounded warriors, caregivers and their children through its various programs.
Wounded Warrior Anglers President and Founder David Souders said their first tournament was held on Veterans Day in 2012. He said the small fundraiser was held to help support the organization.
The nineteenth blog, “It was pretty uplifting,” was written on April 17, 2015.
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.
The twentieth blog, “Numb from the generosity,” written on May 16, 2015.
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.”
The twenty-first blog, “Total disbelief,” written on May 29, 2015.
A charitable drawing likely sent a Cape Coral resident reeling as his name was drawn from 4,000 raffle tickets at the Olde Fish House Marina Saturday, making him the winner of the 2015 Wounded Warrior Anglers boat raffle.
The reality of his win hit home Wednesday morning as he signed the papers for his very first boat at Fort Myers Marina.