Paralyzed Veterans Of America Make A Difference

On July 11-13, 2008, the Paralyzed Veterans of America Bass Tour returned to Waldorf, Md., to fish the Potomac River. Sixty-four disabled anglers from 27 different states rounded out the field that including 24 newly injured wounded warriors...

On July 11-13, 2008, the Paralyzed Veterans of America Bass Tour returned to Waldorf, Md., to fish the Potomac River. Sixty-four disabled anglers from 27 different states rounded out the field that including 24 newly injured wounded warriors who have recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.The PVA has been putting on fishing tournaments for over 20 years and has been sanctioned by BASS since 1999. The goal of their Bass Tour is to improve the quality of life of paralyzed veterans and other persons with disabilities by expanding opportunities in outdoor sports and recreation, especially activities that enhance lifetime health and fitness.According to Alan Earl, associate director of Sports and Recreation, "Most of the newly injured coming to PVA fishing events are feeling down on their luck and lost. After even the first day of fishing you can see their attitudes change and you can see the life pour back into them. It gets their minds off their injuries and, most importantly, it gets them out of the hospitals and homes and back into the great outdoors."The Open Division consists of two one-day tournaments. Disabled anglers are paired up with local BASS Federation Nation members who volunteer their boats and time for the weekend. The Potomac tournament, however, found Elite Series anglers Jason Quinn, Matt Sphar and Todd Auten also volunteering their boats, time and guide skills for the veterans.

 

The PVA Angler of the Year represents the PVA Bass Tour at the Federation

 Nation National Championship and competes against 54 of the best amateur anglers in the world.

 Brandon Schultz was one of the wounded warriors who competed in the tournament. An eight year veteran of the US Army, Schultz' job as a Blackhawk helicopter crew chief saw him stationed in such places as Germany, Kosovo, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Africa. He also served three tours in Iraq.

 Brandon joined the Army directly out of high school. "In fact," he said, "I woke up on my 18th birthday with a drill sergeant screaming at me on a bus at four in the morning."

Schultz finished an impressive 11th in only his second PVA tournament by fishing a Texas rigged worm across deep ledges near a spillway.

"I missed 10th by .007 pounds," he said. "That's like a sugar packet. We got plenty of sun, too," he joked. "My ears were peeling for two or three days afterward."Brandon was very appreciative of the PVA's efforts. "I'd like to thank Alan Earl and the PVA for allowing us to come out and fish. That's a big thing there. It helped us out a lot."I hope to hit the next two tournaments," he added, "and fish next year's, as well."

 
For the fishermen and women who don't feel comfortable going out on a boat or prefer to fish from the bank, the PVA has the Bank Division. Anglers in the Bank Division are allowed to fish for any species of fish that is 4 inches or longer. PVA records the Top 10 weights each day for a two-day total.When asked about the effort it takes to hold the PVA events, Alan Earl was quick to deflect the credit to others."These tournaments," he said, "could not be possible without our sponsors and volunteers. It takes 75 to 100 volunteers to run a successful event. From loading a disabled guy in the boat to baiting a hook for a bank fisherman there is something for every age group to help out with. We are always looking for volunteers for not only our Bass Tour but all of PVA's programs. It also takes sponsors like U.S. Smokeless Tobacco, Budweiser, Toyota and Triton to make the PVA Bass Tour run."

 

The full PVA Bass Tour schedule and other PVA programs and services can be viewed at www.pva.org.

 

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