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July 28, 2014

Veterans Reel In a Great Day of Fishing

Volunteer Guides for Veterans and the Wounded Warrior Project hosted a Father's Day fishing trip for veterans and their families on Lake Ontario. (Photo by Kara Alheim, Oswego County Tourism Office.)

OSWEGO - Over a dozen veterans and their familiescame from across New York State to enjoy a warm and sunny Father's Day and participate in the 2nd annual veterans' charter boat fishing trip on Great Lake Ontario.

The trip was organized by Jim "Doc" Goodness, creator of Volunteer Guides for Veterans, an online resource for military veterans, together with Danny Rodriquez, project coordinator for the Wounded Warrior Project and Capt. Tom Burke with Cold Steel Sportfishing.

"These events are a great way for us to show our respect for these guys who have sacrificed for our country," said Goodness. "Our goal is to say 'thank you' by connecting them with volunteer guides for a free day of fun and outdoor recreation. We hope that the day will be remembered by all and that the veterans walk away with a new-found passion for the great outdoors."

The event is important to everyone involved, from the organizers and volunteers to the veterans and their families.

"Having the veterans out here on Father's Day makes it an extra-special trip for us," said Burke. "As fathers, we just want to keep our families safe and we could never do it without them."

The Wounded Warrior Project is a national organization that began ten years ago when several veterans and friends decided to take action to help others in need as the first wounded service members returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a comprehensive rehabilitative effort to assist warriors transitioning back to civilian life by providing programs that focus on mind, body, engagement and economic empowerment.

"This is an amazing event and the families really appreciate the service," said Rodriquez. "It was a beautiful morning to be fishing on the lake and everyone enjoyed themselves out there. Next year, we hope to make this bigger and better with more veterans, their families and charter captains participating."

The group of veterans and their families enjoyed a little friendly competition out on the lake as well. The Wounded Warrior Project sponsored a contest for the largest catch of the day with a grand prize of a $200 gift card. Robert Fleming and Scott Zohrwon the challenge bylandinga 12.87 pound lake trout while fishing aboard the Proteus with Captain Mike Conroy and Bobby Busch.

"I am a Marine Corps veteran myself, wounded in combat during the Vietnam War," said Capt. Conroy. "I understand where these guys are coming from and it was an honor to be able to take them out for the day and just enjoy some great fishing."

The group of veterans and their families stayed at Quality Inn and Suites in Oswego where they enjoyed dinner at Steamer's Grill. "We are grateful to the representatives of the Wounded Warrior Project, including the veterans and soldiers who came from the Fort Drum chapter," Goodness said. "We would also like to thank the charter boat captains who volunteered their time, equipment and expertise. Their smiles and laughter made the event even more special." Local charter captains and guides who gave their time and experience to the event include Captains Tom Burke and Andy Bill, Cold Steel Sportfishing; Captains Gerry Bresadola and Zach Rayno, Dixie Dandy Charters; Captain Mike Conroy and Bobby Busch, Proteus Sport Fishing; Captain Joe Orsen, Sr. and Ron Kamowski, TSI Charters; and Captain Eddie Hogan and Mike Ariola, Other Woman Fishing Charters.

"I would also like to thank Tom Burke of Cold Steel for his help and support. He was the guide coordinator and really started the ball rolling for the event," said Goodness. "We are also grateful to Shane Broadwell and Mark Pluff from Quality Inn and Suites and Steamer's Grill for their help in organizing dinner and accommodations at a reduced rate for the veterans.

"A big thanks also goes to John Bogart with the Oswego Fish Cleaning Station who helped the veterans get their catches cleaned and shipped home so they could enjoy more great meals, and to our friends from Watertown, N.Y. who helped keep our veterans sustained out on the lake by packing and delivering delicious gourmet sandwiches before the trip.

The Wounded Warrior Project is a not-for-profit organization that is completely dependent on volunteers and donations. The group offers many fishing events, classes and outings throughout the year, for which they rely on donated lodging, meals, equipment, locations, services and monies.

For more information, to make a donation, or to volunteer with the Wounded Warrior Project, contact Danny Rodriquez at (646) 664-1681 or drodriquez@woundedwarriorproject.org. To donate your time and expertise to Volunteer Guides for Veterans, contact Jim "Doc" Goodness at (518) 257-0269 or doc@volunteerguidesforveterans.com.

The Wounded Warrior Project sponsored a fishing contest during a special Father's Day outing for veterans and their families. Robert Fleming (left) and Scott Zohr won the challenge by landing a 12.87 pound lake trout with Captain Mike Conroy and Bobby Busch aboard the Proteus. (Photo by Capt. Mike Conroy, Proteus Sport Fishing.).

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