NORTH EAST, MD — Wounded veterans of all branches of the Armed Forces will be participating in a bass fishing tournament with both pro and semi-professional anglers at the Anchor Marina in North East, MD on Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 19.
Veterans from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Bethesda, Md., will participate as a two-man team in a fundraising tournament that benefits the Marines Helping Marines Foundation which helps fund weekend retreats for wounded veterans in outpatient care and assists military servicemembers and their families in time of need.
This is the fourth year the event will be held and is the second time the event will be held in Maryland. The two previous events were held at Lake Hopatcong, N.J. The veterans participating have sustained injuries ranging from traumatic brain injury to amputation of one or two legs, and in some cases, loss of arms as well.
Corporal Larry Draughn was one of the Marine Corps veterans who had participated in the tournament each year. Draughn lost both his legs and two fingers only one month before the inaugural event in 2009.
Draughn, an avid fisherman before he joined the Corps was paired up with pro angler Dave Wolak.
Since then, Draughn has continued to fish competitively and was recently named a member of the Legend Boats pro staff and receive a two-year contract with the company. He also received his own bass boat and he has been profiled on the new NBC Sports reality series “The Ultimate Fishing Experience.”
“The story of Larry is truly one of success,” said Eric Kowal, one of two organizers of the fishing tournament. “To go from a hospital bed, to fishing just five weeks after such a traumatic experience and then saying ‘I’m not gonna stop til I’m a pro,’ is just incredible,” said.
The cost of the tournament is $200 a boat and is open to anyone with a bass boat and valid Maryland state fishing license.
“If we get 80 boats on the water, the first-place winner has the opportunity to win $4, 000,” said Joby Poster, Kowal’s co-partner in organizing the tournament. Both Kowal and Poster are Marine Corps veterans.
Sponsors have come in many forms Kowal said, not just in cash donations. The equipment the veterans will be using has been donated by various companies to include the Hook Up Tackle, Bass Pro Shops, Lew’s, Susquehanna Fish & Tackle, and Cabela’s.
Travel, lodging, meals and gifts for the wounded veterans are being paid for by donations made to this event.
The wounded warriors get to keep all the equipment they are provided with.
Kowal said “We are trying to give these heroes one weekend out of the hospital so they can meet new friends, have a good time and in the process, help raise funds to benefit other wounded veterans.
Check-in time for the tournament is at 4:30 a.m. and the boats will launch from the Anchor Marina at first safe light, usually right around 6 a.m. and return at 1 p.m. for the official weigh-ins.
A barbeque which is open for all to attend will begin at 1:00 p.m.
The barbeque will be held at the Nauti-Goose Restaurant, 200 Cherry Street, North East, MD, 21901. The girls of American Bombshells will sing the National Anthem and Pin Ups for Patriots will assist with event raffles.
For more information on the tournament and to see a quick video of the experience go to http://www.woundedmarinefishing.com You can also download an entry form on the site and there is an option to make a donation online.