The Texas Billfish Classic held in Freeport, Texas is usually known for its big-name sponsors, record-breaking catches, and stiff competition.
For these American war heroes hosted by Freedom Alliance, however, this tournament meant new friends, a reprieve from everyday life, and a significant step in their journey towards rehabilitation.
This annual fishing tournament is unique in that it awards large payouts to top finishers, and contributes a significant amount of the total prize pool to charitable causes. Jasen Gast, the organizer of the Billfish Classic, named Freedom Alliance as one of the beneficiaries of this year’s Outdoor Adventure.
Jasen also asked if a group of veterans from Freedom Alliance could participate in the competition. We couldn’t turn down an offer like this, so we sent along some deserving American heroes to represent us at the Classic.
Each of the four veterans in attendance had sustained some form of injury while serving our country overseas. They turned to Freedom Alliance for help—as an organization dedicated to serving those who have sacrificed for our country, we were honored to assist them.
Marine Sergeant Cory Lewis, for example, is a veteran of two deployments to Iraq. During his second deployment, he sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury; Freedom Alliance partnered with U.S. Bank to give Cory and his family a mortgage-free home in 2015.
Master Chief Kevin Farrell, a 19-year veteran of the Navy SEALS, has suffered from a broken back, an injured neck, and has undergone foot reconstruction from his time in the military. In recognition of his service, Freedom Alliance gave both of his sons college scholarships.
Our two other American heroes in attendance—Army Sergeant Bill Carlson and Army Corporal Jeramie Green—also received assistance from Freedom Alliance.
Jasen and his crew at the Billfish Classic made certain that all these veterans felt welcome in Texas, from the moment the our crew stepped off the plane. They were treated to a delicious meal at a local eatery, and told that the Billfish Classic team had chartered two private boats for them to polish their fishing skills before the tournament.
Decked out in shirts, hats, and sunglasses provided by our friends at Costa Del Mar, these wounded warriors proceeded to reel in trout, flounder, and even a shark!
The next day, with their fishing skills ready, our heroes gathered at Freeport for the Kick-Off party. There, our Director of Programs, Pepper Ailor, was invited on-stage to introduce Freedom Alliance to the crowd of participants. Renowned videographer and TV producer, Rich Christensen, also presented a short video with interviews from our four veterans.
These men were flooded with questions about Freedom Alliance after the presentation—our men were more than happy to oblige!
The tournament itself was a wild success. There was plenty of fun, friendship, and fishing to be had. One of our supporters, marine wildlife artist Steve Goione, even donated a custom piece of artwork for auction to benefit our organization—his piece sold for over $1,700! All told, the prize pool reached over $200,000, and about $5,000 of that sum was donated to Freedom Alliance!
Here’s what one of our veterans—Kevin Farrell—had to say about this tremendous experience: “I recently attended a trip with Freedom Alliance for disabled veterans. I’m honestly still processing all the ways in which I benefited. Freedom Alliance showed me that there’s still a lot of ways to enjoy life other than just getting by. I’ve dealt with a lot of different organizations over the years but none have come close to making real help so painless and successful. No games, no politics, just a focus on trying to help disabled veterans.”
It is our sincere privilege to help American heroes like Kevin, but we can only do it with your donations and support.
We’d like to extend a special thanks to Jasen, Rich Christensen, and the entire Texas Billfish Classic Team for all their work in making this weekend a special one for our veterans. We hope to see them again next year!
To learn more about how Freedom Alliance works to honor our nation’s wounded warriors, visit freedomalliance.org.