Pay it Forward 2016
It started out as an idea to “give back” to those who have given and still give so much. The name we chose for the Lake of the Woods Area veteran’s event was “Pay It Forward”. We thought it was appropriate for many reasons. This past August, for the third straight year, 60 veterans converged on Lake of the Woods for a 3 night, 2 day all expenses paid fishing trip. We bus some up. Others drive on their own. Others come in a vans from different parts of MN. In all, veterans came from 9 states. When it’s all said and done, veterans of all types, male and female, of different conflicts, with a variety of physical and mental ailments come together and rub elbows with other veterans. Veterans spending time with other veterans, this is a main ingredient that makes the Pay It Forward weekend so special.
There are so many touching stories. Some are happy stories. Some are not so happy. Like many veterans discuss, for many, even though back home, the “battle” is still real, maybe just in a different form. This event allows veterans to forget about challenges, at least for a few days. Hand picked participants help with a variety if issues effecting our veterans. How to peruse the VA medical system? Where can I go for a job? What does a veteran’s service officer do and how can I reach one? Are their support groups? How can I receive help for my specific struggles?
Roughly 20 veterans commit suicide every day. That number is too high. A number of caring veterans, people, volunteers and folks working with organizations who help veterans are part of the Pay It Forward weekend. There are a number of key ingredients that come together to make a good recipe. Everyone of those ingredients are important and in this case, it is no different.
This year, and since the outset, Fishing For Life was a partner of Pay It Forward. They are a group based out of the Twin Cities but reaching out to folks throughout the region helping tremendously with bringing veterans together, identifying issues and providing solutions, creating veterans events that are key to fostering support and so much more.
Another partner for the first year was the Wounded Warrior Project. WWP provides support in a variety of ways for veterans post 9/11. Their support in many ways of this year’s event was beneficial to veterans of all ages and it certainly helped this event to be very special.
Being it was the 50th anniversary of Vietnam, special recognition was given to Vietnam vets. Back when these veterans returned from a very messy and traumatic conflict, they did not receive the welcome they deserved. Vietnam veterans present and not present were honored.
Jim Nelson, a Vietnam Vet addressed the crowd on our opening night. His sharing of his experiences with images while over in Vietnam was educational, touching, emotional and courageous.
Deven Schei of the Wounded Warrior Project was the guest speaker Saturday night in Baudette. Deven shared his story of how his brother was paralyzed overseas and how he himself was injured. He endured 17 different surgeries from his injuries. Deven’s message hit home with many in the crowd and was certainly a message of hope after periods of no hope.
There is no way to share all of the great people and wonderful results of this event, but Midwest Outdoors TV does share just a snapshot of what it’s like on a charter boat fishing with a few awesome guys who are veterans and have served our great country for a day of fishing.
Tune in to Midwest Outdoors this Saturday, November 12th, for a special episode featuring the Pay it Forward 2016 event held at Lake of the Woods. The show will be on KSTC 45 in the Twin Cities and stations in IL this weekend. Next weekend (November 19th) you can catch the show on Fox Sports North and Fox Sports WI as well as other various networks. To view your local stations, click the link HERE for Midwest Outdoors TV Guide.
The 2017 Pay It Forward event will be August 24-27, 2017. If you would like to know more, are interested in your company being a sponsor or if you are a veteran or know of a veteran who may be intersted, check out www.payitforwardlow.org or our Pay it Forward page.
Thank you to all veterans and all who protect and serve!