A Veterans Chance to get their Wheels Wet
The sun begins to rise, and wheels begin to turn. Hands that once held guns now bear fishing poles. This is no ordinary group of anglers. These men are war veterans and fishermen of the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Bass Tour.
The PVA hosts seven 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).
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.
One of BraunAbility's Area Sales Managers Colton Walle attended three 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," says 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. 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 naturally takes place on the water, whereas the more physically impaired or simply prefer to fish from land can fish the banks.
Each division carries their own prizes. Prizes are awarded based upon the highest total weight of the anglers five 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.
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