There was nervous anticipation on the GON Forum several days prior to the March 23 event for disabled sportsmen on Lake Lanier; the weather forecast was less than ideal with the potential for strong storms and lightning. However, after seeing a slight break in the weather window with a day to go, Tim Rowe, aka Arrow Flinger on the forum, sent out a post that the event was going to happen. After all, with an organization sporting the words “Without Limits” in their title, a little weather wasn’t going to stand in the way.
Tim runs the Loganville chapter of Outdoors Without Limits (OWL)—a faith-based, non-profit organization committed to reducing the barriers that prevent disabled people from enjoying the great outdoors. Their mission is to promote awareness and teamwork between disabled and non-disabled individuals through outdoor recreation. OWL helps to provide disabled individuals with the opportunity to experience the outdoors through hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. It is a life-changing experience for all those involved.
Daybreak shed light on quite a sight that Friday morning at Lanier Harbor Marina. Fifty-three disabled folks representing five states excitedly waited to board boats supplied by 36 captains, aided by an additional 12 volunteers. We were all honored by the hero participants rounding out the remainder of the group—11 members of the Wounded Warrior Project and four Vietnam disabled veterans.
The fishing had been off the charts the week prior to the event, and although the bite was a little slower that Friday, the action was good. Every boat caught fish, and many quality stripers and spotted bass found their way into nets after adrenaline-surging fights. Several stripers heavier than 20 pounds were boated, providing bragging rights and life-long memories.
I assisted Capt. Jeff Blair as he guided Glenn, a wheelchair-bound sportsman from Comer. As Glenn battled one striper, a solid 16-pounder, he blurted out, “This is the most fun I’ve ever had!” Jeff and I both grinned from ear to ear.
As I was leaving that afternoon, I congratulated Tim on pulling off a great event and remarked how fortunate we had been with the weather. Tim smiled and said, “I think considering what we do, we usually get a little help from above when it comes to stuff like that.”
I’d have to agree.
The Lanier fishing day was a total volunteer event. Many thanks to the OWL members, boat captains and event helpers who donated their time, boats, fuel and expertise for this worthy cause.
OWL will host another event on Lake Oconee on Friday, May 11. If you would like to help with this event, call Tim at (404) 376-4772.
For information on OWL, check out their website, <outdoorswith outlimits.net>.
Events like this provide an opportunity for wounded soldiers like myself to participate and re-engage in outdoor activities, socialization with others and an opportunity to try new things. It provided an environment where the participants and mentors understand the limitations and issues associated with various disabilities ranging from amputations to traumatic brain injury.
I personally became isolated because of the problems I had with driving and being around large groups due to my traumatic brain injury and other physical injuries. This stopped me from enjoying the outdoors, and I missed out on being able to just enjoy hanging out with others who could relate to my experiences. This is one of the few events I have been to and one of a handful of times I have been outside my home for anything other than doctor’s appointments and basic living functions.
Maj. James Macrellis