“It is the simple things,” said one soldier, “that make the biggest difference in someone else’s life.”
Fishing may be one of those. Kindness is another.
Some folks in Spring Grove, Virginia, have figured out how to offer both to impact war veterans.
Woo Daves, a fishing superstar, is the winner of the 2000 BassMaster’s Classic World Championship. A professional angler with numerous achievements to his name, Woo is also a man with a heart for people.
He organizes an annual charity fundraiser/fishing tournament, of which Freedom Alliance is a beneficiary. Organizations and individuals donate special items to be auctioned and raffled, including pieces of NASCAR memorabilia (the tournament is scheduled to coincide with the races in Richmond, Virginia).
In addition to the donations, Woo and his wife, Patty, invite Freedom Alliance to send service members to participate in the tournament, which takes place on the James and Chickahominy Rivers. Local fishermen volunteer to host the veterans on their boats.
From the early-morning breakfast and embarkation, to the bass weigh-in and auction later that day, the vets get to experience it all.
This year we selected nine—combat-wounded or disabled—servicemen and family members, for a total of 14.
We couldn’t do this if it weren’t for the goodness and hospitality of Robert and Jody Jones, who make available their lovely waterfront property to our troops during the tournament. The Millpond, as the Joneses’ residence is known, is a 300-plus-acre pond with a spacious cabin at the water’s edge.
The pond is stocked with large-mouth bass, as well as boats and fishing equipment, which provide a fun challenge for the military folk who come to visit. And, in the cabin, there are rooms for everyone.
Indeed, many a Freedom Alliance guest has stayed consecutive years at the Millpond and gotten to know the Jonses very well.
As it happens, John—a sergeant and forward observer who lost a leg during the war—first attended this fishing event six years ago, about the time Freedom Alliance found him recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. John has since married Robert and Jody’s daughter Amy!
Bradley, who was injured in an explosion while fighting overseas, also attended with John that first year.
“This is truly a life-changing event,” he said, “not only for those of us affected directly by the donations, but also for the entire community.”
He explained how all the local people get involved—some participate directly and others show up to cheer the rest on. The Daveses really know how to rally the supporters.
Bradley also reflected on the first time he met Woo. “This moment stands out to me every time I cast out,” he said.
Woo had asked Bradley if he’d done much fishing in the past. Bradley replied that he had more fingers on