Deven Schei, Wounded Warrior Project to Speak at Pay It Forward Event in Baudette
This year marks the third annual “Pay It Forward” veterans event up at Lake of the Woods. The big event happens August 25-28, 2016. As in past years, Lake of the Woods hosted about 60 injured and disabled veterans for a 3 night / 2 day fishing extravaganza. Veterans have the opportunity to enjoy world class walleye fishing aboard a charter boat with a professional charter captain on The Walleye Capital of the World. In addition, there will be great dinners, programs and live entertainment amongst the camaraderie of veterans.
This event continues to build each year. This year, as in past, we will bring the 60 veterans to Baudette for a community celebration. There will be a walleye fish fry, special guest speakers and some great music by the Knight Lighters.
Two organizations we have worked very closely with for this year’s program is Fishing For Life and the Wounded Warrior Project. Both groups and their leadership are coming through in many ways to make this event and the experience for veterans the best it can be.
One of the speakers will be Devan Schei who is with the Wounded Warrior Project. When Deven Schei’s brother was first deployed to Iraq, Deven made him a solemn vow: “If something happens to you while you are over there, I promise to finish what you started.”
Tragically, something did happen. Deven’s brother was shot in the head, leaving him a quadriplegic. Deven kept his promise and joined the United States Army, determined to stay true to his word. He says becoming a member of the 101st Airborne Air Assault Division was one of his proudest moments. But just how fate had dealt its hand to his brother, Deven’s deployment ended in injury.
“I was hit with four 80mm rockets,” says Deven. “I lost a portion of my left calf, a portion of my left thigh and had shrapnel all over my body. I had a slipped disc, cartilage missing in my back and my knees, tendinitis, loss of eye sight in my left eye, post tramatic stress disorder (PTSD), and traumatic brain injury (TBI); I was left with all these things.”
Even with 17 surgeries, Deven’s physical pain, frustration and anguish were not what frustrated him the most.
“My greatest challenge was not being with my battle buddies. Leaving them in Afghanistan was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Not being able to go on missions with them or train with them always haunted me. I kept up with them all of the time, calling and emailing to make sure all missions went well and everyone came back in one piece.”
It’s that kind of dedication and connection that drives Deven to help his fellow wounded service members today as both a Wounded Warrior Project spokesperson and a member of the National Speaker’s Association.
“I want other injured warriors to understand there is life outside the military. My brother Erik is the perfect example. He motivates me to keep going every day. He never let’s anything get him down.”
If you would like to hear more about Deven Schei’s story and experiences, everyone is welcome. A “good will offering” walleye fry, Pay It Forward program and live music will take place at the Lake of the Woods County Fairgrounds in Baudette, MN on Saturday, August 27th. The dinner runs from 5pm – 7pm. The program will begin at 6:30pm. Live music before and after the program. Everyone is welcome to share in this special evening.