NuStar Casting for a Cause helps veterans heal through kayak fishing
This year has been a remarkable year of growth for Heroes On The Water and specifically the Coastal Bend HOW Chapter. We continued to spread the word about who we are, and what we do for veterans and active duty military, and our numbers steadily increased. Because of the financial support provided by Casting For A Cause 2013, we were able to equip our chapter with kayaks, gear, and a trailer. We committed to at least one outing a month in 2014 (which we are meeting) and our number of participants continue to grow. Our volunteer base has grown as well. We have been able to have a shore crew at a few outings that prepare lunch while we are on the water, and
recently we have added a Safety boat as well to keep an eye out while we paddle.
For this year’s tournament, we had HOW Chapter representation from all over Texas, as well as Louisiana and Virginia. We met on Thursday before the tournament for a big group paddle…the wind did not cooperate, nor did the fish, but our mission isn’t always about filling the stringers with fish. Sometimes just being on the water is enough. The camaraderie, the conversation, the healing, it happens without trying if you provide the right setting. Kayak fishing is that kind of setting. It provides a calm one on one with nature, allows the warrior to disengage from daily stresses, and puts them in a comfort zone with their brothers and sisters.
On tournament day, the Coastal Bend Chapter met up at our rally point (Whataburger) and traveled out to our launch site. The wind had died down a bit from the day before and we unloaded and staged gear in the predawn light. We had four teams competing, with 5 local veterans and 6 volunteers paddling out as the sun crept up behind the clouds. Some of the San Antonio Chapter vets were also mixed among our group. As we spread out on the vast grass flat where the Lower Laguna Madre meets Corpus Christi Bay, we searched for fish, and some of us found them. Unfortunately, the catch to angler ratio wasn’t as ideal as we intended, but several fish were landed. About noon, we started migrating back to the launch site and loading gear. Three of the four Coastal Bend teams had fish to bring to the weigh in!
The weigh in festivities were incredible, as everyone there can attest to. This was the first CFAC tournament for everyone in the Coastal Bend Chapter, except their Coordinator. As the door prize raffle went on, one of our volunteers gave his winning prize to one of our vets. It was a Curado baitcasting reel and a Waterloo rod; and the look on his face was priceless. The spirit of generosity continued, and more prizes were donated back to veterans including, but not limited to a new kayak and a carbon fiber paddle. In addition, the Stinky Pants Pro Staff donated some prize money to the veteran-only raffle which ended up going to one of our local vets as well.
While we did not win any awards for our fish (though we did have one team place 6th overall out of 70 kayak teams!) the HOW veterans were honored and many won prizes, with several of them being the re-donated prizes from generous people that support Heroes on the Water. HOW cannot do what we do without support and donations. I can attest first hand to what a difference HOW makes to veterans, and sometimes these are life saving differences. THANK YOU to everyone that supports our mission, whether in the form of monetary support or by participating at our events. These brave men and women signed a blank check when they enlisted. The least we can do is show our appreciation for what they have done for us. If you see a veteran or active duty military, please take a few moments to thank them. We owe them that much.
For more information about Heroes On The Water, please visit our website at www.heroesonthewater.org
For information about the Coastal Bend Chapter, check out https://heroesonthewater.org/chapters/coastal-bend-chapter/
…or our FaceBook page at https://www.facebook.com/HOWCoastalBendChapter
Coastal Bend Chapter Coordinator