“We take for granted our lives, so it’s important to me that I give back.” ~ Chaz Baker
Chaz Baker, currently the Heroes on the Water (HOW) East Texas chapter coordinator, has participated in Carry the Load for the last eight years. She didn’t personally serve but that does not stop her from focusing on serving her community.
“My friend Katey and I walked 10 miles with the national team that first year,” says Chaz. “It was a powerful experience and I keep returning to show my respect.”
Chaz is looking forward to walking this year, and hopes to be able to carry her HOW flag during the three-and-a-half-mile walk.
“The years I’ve participated have meant so much to me,” says Chaz. “I have met amazing people who have lost loved ones while defending our country. I’ve met kids who are growing up without a parent because of that dedication.”
“It’s a tribute to their sacrifice. Plus, it’s not much to walk those miles and show my respect.”
Chaz weights her backpack which has the names of those she is honoring pinned on the outside. She has also put colored streamers with the names of those she honors on her backpack. Even during the height of the pandemic, she and her friend did the virtual walk.
“We are just trying to give back to those who are still with us.”
Who Are You Carrying?
Carry The Load (CTL) started as a mission to restore the true meaning of Memorial Day. Today they work to bring all Americans together to participate in honoring our nation’s heroes every day.
In their 11th year, CTL has added another relay so that they now cover the majority of the United States. With five relay paths and multiple rallies, it is easy to be involved in this important mission. People who participate come away with a new-found respect for the sacrifices our heroes make, and a group of amazing friends.
Heroes on the Water has been a non-profit partner with CTL since their beginning. As one of the first, along with Assist the Officer, we are proud to be a part of such a great mission. Remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom is a privilege, one that our community believes in.
Chaz found a community of amazing folks to honor. From our first CTL rally, where she met HOW founder Jim Dolan, to our current year, she is focused on showing respect and love for our veterans, first responders, family members, and in the case of CTL, surviving family and friends.
“When I first started, I participated with Young Hero Warriors for Gold Star Families. Getting to know those people was a powerful experience for me,” says Chaz. “It’s important to me to pay tribute to the sacrifices made.”
Chaz believes everyone will benefit from participating in Carry the Load.
“I get to be with these guys and gals and just love on them. Just listening to the stories and getting to know them keeps me going.”
PADDLE. FISH. HEAL.
As the East Texas HOW Chapter Coordinator for the last three years, Chaz has had the opportunity to make a large impact on the lives of our heroic community.
“It’s not about the fishing and kayaking as much as fellowshipping with others,” says Chaz. “It’s a time for them to relax and have no pressure.”
HOW utilizes kayak fishing in all our volunteer-led chapters nationwide. The therapeutic benefits of being in the outdoors and kayak fishing is proven. The community that is built is a major benefit to the participants and volunteers. They are able to find like-minded people who can support them outside a HOW event.
Including families is an important part of the HOW program. We believe that everyone should benefit from outdoor recreational therapy, and are happy to accommodate family members who also serve. Each chapter provides a healing environment for our participants. The flow of an event is easy, and everyone is encouraged to do what is most comfortable for them – kayaking, fishing, visiting, or just sitting and enjoying the quiet calm of the outdoors.
“This is a chance for us to give back and show how much we appreciate their sacrifices,” says Chaz. “Everything is provided to our participants at no cost. We just need you to get there, enjoy the good fun, and take a moment to breath.”