Outdoor Experiences sponsored an event at the Wing 'n Fin Resort
on Lake Traverse May 16-19 to "give back to our veterans who have
made sacrifices for our freedom. It was an enjoyable weekend of
free lodging, meals, and all the fishing they could handle."
Simply Outdoor Experiences provides all the essential tools
to be successful in the great outdoors, which leads to being successful
in life. "Through our mentoring and teaching, we strive to give
all families a meaningful outdoor experience that will last a lifetime!'
said Joanne Zacharias, Event Coordinator.
The Mission Statement of Simply Outdoor Experiences is "Empowering
kids and adults with the knowledge and resources to create positive
Twenty-two veterans plus staff members converged on Wing 'n
Fin on Thursday and headed straight to the lake to try their luck.
Many fish were brought in towards evening, bringing excitement to
the days ahead. This was the first multiple day event tried by Simply
Outdoors Experiences and it was promising to be a success that would
The guys were all dressed in t-shirts imprinted on the back
with "Kan Do," "Don't Tell Me I Kan't" - blue for
the Veterans and red for the staff. Zacharias, a spitfire who's
a single mom, is in the process of starting this company to empower
women, veterans and special needs people. She's no cream puff! She
enjoys the outdoors, especially the water, as she grew up between
two small lakes on the family farm in Richville, MN. She was the
only female to launch her own boat in this year's Governor's opener.
She doesn't take "no" for an answer and she allows others to follow
her zest for life. Woody Sankey, Executive Director and Joanne's
cousin, doesn't show Joanne's exuberance, but he sits quietly in
the background, keeping an eye on what's going on. He's the one
who actually started the whole thing. "It was started to give back
to others," he said. "It's the right thing to do."
The participating veterans at Wing 'n Fin Resort came from all
over Minnesota, plus a handful from North and South Dakota and Iowa.
Jim Ecker and Don Miller, both from Browns Valley, among those in
the group. Most of the veterans had served in the Army, however
all branches of the service were represented. They had served in
World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, and Afghanistan.
One of the veterans had served for 22 years. Also among them was
a veteran from Fargo who was a lower leg amputee, that had become
quite adept at mobilization.
After lunch on Saturday, the Veterans gathered
for a special Flag Raising. Jim Jung was on hand to provide trumpet
music during the Flag Raising followed by each branch's song and
ending with the National Anthem.
Each evening the group sat around and told stories,
and made new friends.
When the veterans registered for the Experience,
a final question was "Anything you would like to share with us?"
Some of the responses were: "awesome project," "Thanks for caring,"
"love to fish," "It's a grand thing you do," "Thank you for giving
me this fishing opportunity."
As they left on Sunday, the veterans (and staff)
commented about the friendships they had developed in the four short
the memories they were taking with them and the great
time that was enjoyed by all. They were already looking forward
to another fishing experience next year at Wing 'n Fin Resort.
"Touching hearts and making memories is what Simply
Outdoor Experiences does best!" said Joanne.
To learn more about Simply Outdoor Experiences,
log on to its website at simplyoutdoorexperiences.org