Success Stories2024-01-25T19:45:10-06:00

Success Stories

Anything but Ordinary

April 23, 2024|

Matthew Lowery’s life is a testament to service, from his upbringing in a military family to his distinguished 24-year career in the Navy. “As a military brat, it was the only kind of life that I knew. We’d move from duty station to duty station every 2 to 3 years.”

Finding a Sense of Belonging

March 19, 2024|

Juan De La Garza's journey is one of service and determination. Born in California but raised in South Texas, Juan's life took him on a path of military service, civilian work, and eventually, to a profound connection with Heroes on the Water, a program that would change his life in ways he never imagined.

Invisible Injuries

June 13, 2022|

“One minute you are enjoying your life, and the next people are dying all around you and you are running for your life. It leaves a permanent mark.” ~Priscilla Horvath, Heroes on the Water Volunteer Program Coordinator

Honor and Sacrifice

May 12, 2022|

Officer Keith Mackenzie is a father of three who has built a 28-year career as a police officer in Bethel, Connecticut. He is the Assistant Coordinator for HOW’s Western Connecticut Chapter and is an avid sportsman, fisherman and kayaker. He says he recognized the positive impact Heroes on the Water has made in his close friend Mike Libertini who is the Coordinator for the chapter.

Making Your Mark

February 17, 2022|

Starting a HOW Chapter doesn’t just impact the participants who join in on events, it also positively impacts each volunteer and your entire community at large. When we offer healing to our veterans who have given so much, to our first responders who serve us daily, and to their families we are creating a healthier world for everyone.

I Was There – Reflections of a 9/11 Survivor

September 9, 2021|

Each year when the anniversary of 9/11 occurs, the question “where were you” comes up. For Heroes on the Water board member, Samantha (Sam) Horwitz, she remembers exactly where she was – in Tower 1 when American Airlines Flight 11 hit. Sam is a former U.S. Secret Service Agent who was just going to work like any other day, not realizing that day would change her life forever.

Celebrating the comforts of the American Great Outdoors

June 21, 2021|

Heroes on the Water helps heroes relax and reconnect through kayak fishing and the outdoors. Our mission aligns with our partner, Southern Comfort, in a natural way. Recently the team at Southern Comfort caught up with our own Jason Austin to discuss the benefit of the outdoors, and how our organizations have common interests. Read on to learn more…

My Daughter is my Hero

May 12, 2021|

“I think many people take for granted that the freedom and liberties we have are because of those members of the military we have standing behind us. It’s something I’ve always been drawn to supporting. Now, my daughter and son-in-law both serve it has become even more important to me.” Baxter-Clark says. 

Healing Starts Here

November 9, 2020|

At Heroes on the Water, we are so blessed to have volunteers who believe in our mission and help us serve veterans, first responders and their families. María Castañeda and her husband Rudy are two of the amazing people who show up every day to serve our veterans.

Tales from the Front Lines

September 10, 2020|

At times everyone struggles. At Heroes on the Water, we are honored to serve those who step up and ensure our freedom and safety. When one of those fine folks lets us know how we helped, that is certainly a fine day for us here at HOW. Please read Matt Bagley’s story. It is why we do what we do.

Freedom is for Everyone

July 1, 2020|

Everyone has a different idea of freedom, which is exactly what the men and women fought for so bravely all these years – the freedom of choice. We caught up with Steve Graff, former chapter coordinator for East Texas, and asked him what freedom means to him.

Fatherhood, Family and Fishing

June 18, 2020|

I reflect back on all those dads that got me to this point. They taught me the value of being a good man, one who appreciates simple things, like family and fishing. During the school year, my dad kept me plenty busy with Boy Scouts. My grandfather taught me to fish among many other things.

We Roll with the Punches

May 29, 2020|

“Military life throws some doozies at you and you have to stay strong to power through it.” We have all been talking a lot about the “new normal” and life with COVID-19. As a military spouse, I’ve had to endure a lot of changes. The pandemic is just another change of course, and we adapt and overcome. We lean on each other and keep moving forward.

Answering the Call

November 5, 2019|

“The tough losses are those we endured after we returned. The brothers and sisters we lost to suicide.” Aric Quitugua, chapter coordinator for Heroes on the Water Tampa Bay, saw some of the worst as an Army Medic. He understands the struggles veterans have when they return.

Operation “Double Dip” – From Hardship to Hope

September 10, 2019|

“He got out of that kayak and started talking about what a great time he had, how many fish he caught. It took about 20 to 30 seconds before we all realized he was no longer stuttering,” says Dolan. “The stutter returned, but it boosted him in a major way. He told us he had been at BAMC for two years without any progress. He said, ‘Now I have hope.’”

The Born Outdoorsman

July 24, 2019|

“I was always big into the outdoors. I was 15 when my boss invited me duck hunting,” says Dave. “I fell in love with it and now hunting is a big part of my life.” Dave spends his free time - he has served on non-profit boards since 1997, so combining his love of all things outdoors and passion for giving back made Heroes on the Water a natural choice.

Carrying a Legacy

May 22, 2019|

Amber’s father, grandfather and father-in-law all proudly served in the U.S. Military. She ultimately married a man who spent 20 years in the military and has many family members who serve in law enforcement and as first responders.

When Giving Back Becomes Your Code – REDLEE / SCS Sets the Standard

March 6, 2019|

At first glance, REDLEE / SCS, Inc. is a successful facilities management company. Dig a little deeper and you find a rich family history. What is not obvious is the depth of the family focus, encompassing every employee within the organization, or the strong focus on giving back to the community. REDLEE / SCS has high standards when it comes to community service.

The Art of Transition

February 12, 2019|

It’s not a secret that veterans often struggle with reintegrating into civilian life. Add to that a move to a new state, starting a life with your new spouse, and a whole host of other changes, and you could have a recipe for disaster. Not for Robin and Monte. What is their secret?

She Served – Now It’s Your Turn

October 2, 2017|

What kind of person chooses to volunteer large amounts of time to a non-profit after enduring a sexual assault, major injury and chronic body pain, survives major lung surgery after battling meningitis and epilepsy, and even today struggles some days to get out of bed? That would be a person of fortitude and bravery, like Dawn.

A Woman, A Veteran, A Mother

May 12, 2017|

Mother’s Day conjures up many emotions. If you are a young mother, it’s a new experience filled with wonder and joy, and sometimes a lot of messes. For moms with older children, it’s a time to recognize how wonderful your children are, and be proud of all you have accomplished.

Peace – It Comes in That Moment

March 31, 2017|

We’ve all experienced it – that single moment when you feel at one with the world. When you are present in a moment of inner peace that encompasses your entire being. You feel whole. For many of our veterans, these moments are too few and far between. Think about it – they have been on high alert for months, fighting for our freedom, fighting side by side with their brothers and sisters in arms, fighting for their lives. Then, whether through injury, disability or the end of their time, it suddenly stops. It’s as if someone has slammed on the brakes.

Paying a Major Debt

March 13, 2017|

“You can never repay what many of our veterans and their families have given up, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try. We want to do something in a small way for people who have done so much for all of us. It’s a small payment on a large debt.” ~ Luther Cifers, Founder and President, YakAttack, LLC 

I Heart Fishing

February 14, 2017|

If you love to fish, then you completely understand the passion so many have for this sport. If you don’t, or never have, fished, well, there are so many reasons to love it. For example, you get the calming influence of being on or near the water, and there is the competitive nature with just trying to catch that big fish.

Life is Like a Tackle Box

January 27, 2017|

Organizing your tackle box is essential for fishing success. You need to be confident you have the right fishing tools at your fingertips. Organizing your daily life is also essential, as thinking ahead and focusing on your goal will also ensure success. So, let’s take a cue from your tackle box and get organized!

On the Water: Serving Those Who Served

December 1, 2016|

There are a million ways you can choose to help our nation’s heroes, but is there a best way? Probably not, but there are definitely better, more effective ways to serve them. As with many things in life, the saying goes “keep it simple.” Well, we’ve taken that advice and done just that; our program puts ‘Heroes on the Water,’ plain and simple.

We are Their Family Now

December 22, 2015|

Rudy and María Castañeda knew they wanted to help veterans, so they began their journey to create and develop a Heroes on the Water chapter in the Rio Grande Valley. They held their first event in May, and since that time have taken over 100 warriors and families out on the water.

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