By Terry Sympson ~
Seven disabled lady veterans along with two recreational therapists from the Dallas/Fort Worth VA Hospital enjoyed several days of rest, relaxation and fishing at Jackson Hill Marina courtesy of the Patriots Challenge program. Money raised at their annual tournament fishing series provided an all expense paid trip to Veteran and Active duty military groups so they can enjoy the beautiful Sam Rayburn Lake.
These very special guests arrived at Jackson Hill Marina on Tuesday October 13th and departed on Friday morning leaving them plenty of time to really enjoy the beautiful fall weather courtesy of Mother Nature.
The trip is part of the VA’s Recreational therapy program designed to help veterans recovering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other physical and emotional injuries suffered while serving our Country.
The Ladies in attendance included Veterans Lynell, Lizzy, Michelle, Carla, Adrena, Rosie and Magee with Recreational Therapists and organizers Donna Gerron and Kaitlyn Moore from the Dallas VA Hospital. Their adventure began shortly after their arrival with some basic fishing knowledge and understanding about what they were going to see and experience on their trip to Sam Rayburn.
The Net Menders from The Good Samaritan Fellowship Church from Fred, Texas, lead by Brother Robert Moore helped out again this year along with local Broaddus residents Dean Perkins and legendary crappie fishing guide Larry King. Ben E Keith Foods helped provide the meat for the chef to prepare tasty meals for all in attendance. It didn’t take long after their arrival before the ladies were in the swing of things walking in the park, stopping to view the scenic shoreline of Big Sam Rayburn and ready for Tuesday nights traditional Rib eye steak dinner.
Wednesday morning started with a good country breakfast and then off to look for some tasty Sam Rayburn crappie with guides Dean Perkins, Jeff Poitinger and Terry Sympson from Jackson Hill Marina and founder of Patriots Challenge. Wednesday night was fish fry night and by Thursday morning the ladies were ready for a second full day on the water. “We scheduled an extra day this year because everyone has such a great time here” explained Kaitlyn Kelton the groups organizer “we take patients on several trips during the year, but this is by far everyone’s favorite place to be”. Trip organizer Donna Gerron reported that one of the most important aspects of these trips is to get the ladies out of their comfort zone since many PTSD patients withdraw from social activities and interaction with friends and family. “We intentionally pick candidates who don’t really know each other and encourage them build relationships and to try new things”.
Thursday night was Bluegrass and Barbeque night with music supplied by the Sabine River Bend Band who played for the ladies, volunteers and guests.”These guys are so good, we were all amazed” the ladies reported. Ms. Kelton also added “Everyone we meet here is so amazing, we love being in such a beautiful place with such wonderful people”.
Patriots Challenge is a program of the Outdoor Freedom Network, a 501 (c) (3) public charity operated by Terry and Connie Sympson of Jackson Hill Park and Marina. The profit raised by holding the Patriots Challenge fishing tournaments is used to help support events to benefit Military members, Veteran’s and their families.
You can see the entire photo album on the Jackson Hill Park and Marina Facebook page. For more info, go to the Outdoor Freedom website. You can also call Jackson Hill Marina at 936-872-9266. Special thanks to the Sabine River Bend Bluegrass Band.