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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Heroes on the Water at Wing 'n Fin Resort
by Joanne Zacharias - Simply Outdoor Experiences

Simply 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 outdoor experiences."

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 be repeated.

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 days… 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

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