A Veterans Chance to get their Wheels Wet

AbilityVoice: a blog about mobility topics

The sun begins to rise, and wheels begin to turn. Hands that once held guns and freedom in tow now push tires and bear fishing line. This is no ordinary group of anglers. These men are war veterans, but this group is even more special than that. These are the fishermen of the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Bass Tour.

Veteran Fishing at the BlueGrass Bash Tournament

The PVA hosts 7 two-day fishing tourneys each year. The collective is the PVA Bass Tour. It is tailored to veterans, but anyone with a disability is eligible to fish at any event. All participants live with either a spinal cord injury (SCI) or a spinal cord disease (SCD). This is the first year that BraunAbility has officially sponsored the events.

After a Friday night cook-out and registration, the event kicks off at 5:00am on Saturday morning. Each PVA Bass Tour event lasts for 2 days, always a Saturday and a Sunday. Each day holds its own events as well.

BraunAbilitys Colton Walle has attended 3 of the 2012 PVA Bass Tour stops. Walle served as a volunteer to the bank fishing anglers, and drove the BraunAbility Toyota Sienna to each event.

It (PVA Bass Tour) means everything to the vets, reflects Walle. It serves to take their minds off of the theater of war.

After an Honor Guard procession officially kicks off the day, Saturday is the day of the individual fishing competition. Each participant is paired with a volunteer fishing guide, but he cannot catch fish on Saturday. Sunday is the team fishing event, in which the veteran and the fishing guide both compete together as a team.

Veterans may compete in either the boat division or the bank division of competition. Boat competition takes place on the water, where the more physically impaired that cannot get on a boat, or simply prefer to fish the banks.

Each division carries their own prizes. Prizes are awarded based upon the highest total weight of the anglers 5 heaviest fish, and each day carries its own prizes for the same goal. Prizes also exist for outstanding performance across multiple PVA Bass Tour events, such as the Angler of the Year Award.

Walle saw many return anglers at each of his 3 Bass Tour events. About 50% of the participants are local, but the other 50% are dedicated. They travel to each Bass Tour event through the year.

Two PVA Bass Tour events remain for this years tourney. The Ken Medeiros Memorial Tournament covers the weekend of September 7-9th. The locale for this tournament is Lake Winnipesaukee, in Moultonboro, NH. The final stop is the Mid-America Okie Open Tournament on Lake Eufaula, in Eufaula, OK. The tournament is September 28-30th. Registration is still open for both events.

For more information on the PVA Bass Tour, or any of the numerous other PVA sponsored sports, visit the PVA at their website here.

Micah Christensen is completing his marketing internship at BraunAbility and is enjoying getting to know the customers and the personal stories that make up our audience on AbilityVoice