To The Editor:
When words like, Ã¢â‚¬Å“This is one of the best things IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve ever done in my lifeÃ¢â‚¬Â or Ã¢â‚¬Å“When IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m here, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think about all the pain and sufferingÃ¢â‚¬Â or Ã¢â‚¬Å“This has opened up a new world to me, I can do this!Ã¢â‚¬Â or even Ã¢â‚¬Å“I havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been treated this good or had meals like this in a long timeÃ¢â‚¬Â come from grateful wounded vetsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ mouths, it humbles you. It humbles you because as citizens, we too often take for granted the simple things we enjoy on a daily basis. On a beautiful autumn weekend on the Salmon River near Pulaski, NY, we set out to show these vets our appreciation for their service and sacrifice, from wars past and present. With fish caught, friendships formed, stories told, outstanding meals, and beautiful weather, it was a weekend of relaxation and serenity for 15 wounded warriors that came to the river in search of healing waters and fresh air.
Win-Win. In life, if we can find things that everyone can benefit from, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s called success. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Inc. helps to create that opportunity by blending many facets of support from everywhere possible. The soldiers are the primary winners because they have people and organizations who care about them and do amazing things to help. The organizations benefit from being able to lend assistance through donations of many forms, whether itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s by monetary, catering and food, fishing equipment, lodging, personal time, or holding community events to raise awareness. The community wins by backing events and programs like PHWFFI to let our soldiers know that we all care, and that we are there for them.
As the Oswego County and MidÃ¢â‚¬â€œAtlantic Regional Coordinator for PHWFFI, I am truly humbled by all the assistance that was brought forth to make this event happen, and would like to thank the following people, organizations and businesses that stepped up:
The Greater Pulaski Community Fund Ã¢â‚¬â€œ PHWFFI 2009 Event Grant Funds, PHWFFI Staff and Volunteers and Coordinators Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Ed Nicholson President of PHWFFI and selected as a CNN Hero for 2009, CPT. David Folkerts, LTC Ed LaChance, CPT. Robert Burke Ft. Drum PHWFFI Program Lead, Sandy Pappaianni, Ray Markewicz and LTC Doug Matty and his wife, Dea. Also, Becky Ross of The Syracuse VA Ã¢â‚¬â€œ vet assistance and support, Fran Verdoliva, NYSDEC Salmon River Coordinator Ã¢â‚¬â€œ planning and assistance, NYSDEC Training Facility and staff in Pulaski Ã¢â‚¬â€œ lodging and support for the event, The Altmar Fish Hatchery and Staff Ã¢â‚¬â€œ event host, Steve Murphy of Brookfield Power Ã¢â‚¬â€œ event host and donations, NYSDEC Conservation Officers and Regional Directors Ã¢â‚¬â€œ support and cooperation, Trout Unlimited and all of its associated chapters involved for this event, Jessica Trump Burt and Janet Clerkin of Oswego County Tourism and outdoor writer Spider Rybaak Ã¢â‚¬â€œ on-going support, press, assistance, Ellen Boyle Ã¢â‚¬â€œ who was a driving force in making all catering and Ã¢â‚¬Å“extra touchesÃ¢â‚¬Â available and well organized. Members of the Forever Fishing Forums Board, The AnglerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Net, Orvis, The Hook & Hackle Co, and Jim Baumbach – for hundreds of assorted flies and other equipment donations, The Eastern Lake Ontario Salmon & Trout Association Ã¢â‚¬â€œ donation for fishing licenses, Omar Davis Ã¢â‚¬â€œ cash donation, StephanoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Pizzeria Ã¢â‚¬â€œ dinner, North Country Christian Church Ã¢â‚¬â€œ breakfast, The Park United Methodist Church Ã¢â‚¬â€œ fruit and snack baskets, The Pulaski American Legion Post 358 Ã¢â‚¬â€œ lunch, The Saint James Episcopal Church of Pulaski Ã¢â‚¬â€œ dinner and all kinds of help throughout the event, The Amputee Coalition of America Ã¢â‚¬â€œ catering assistance, Dan Krupke and the staff at Ponderosa Ã¢â‚¬â€œ breakfast and lunch, Colosse Cheese Ã¢â‚¬â€œ snacks and gift certificates, The DunkinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Donuts of Parish Ã¢â‚¬â€œ coffee, PriceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Fruit Stand Ã¢â‚¬â€œ flowers, WhitakerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Sports Store Ã¢â‚¬â€œ staff for guide/mentoring, Oswego County Legislator Louella LeClair Ã¢â‚¬â€œ support and the Syracuse Post Standard Ã¢â‚¬â€œ media coverage.
Special thanks also goes out to all the mentor/guides that have worked with us for our events, and who so graciously give up their weekends to do things like this. These folks are the ones who spend most of the one-on-one time with our vets. We salute the following: Fran Verdoliva, Patrick Ross, Bob, Rob and Amy Adamski of Whitakers and their staff Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Randy, Joe, Rob and Norm, Wayne Sherwood, Kipp Tivnan, Dave Agness, Charlie Blaas, Don Kennedy, Peter Bojelewski, NYSDEC CO Matt Dorrett, Ron Nix, Gratson Quinter, Dave Kohr, Kim Kelso, Jim Everard, Marty Ivery and Jim Carncross both of the Syracuse-based PHWFFI program.
So many others were on hand to help, and we thank them also. Pulaski and the surrounding communities should be proud of their efforts and what it all meant to our vets. Your kindness will always be remembered.
Fred Kuepper Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Oswego County and Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator
Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Inc. (PHWFFI)
384 Johnson Rd., Mexico, NY 13114