This years Wounded Warriors event exceeded expectations

By all accounts the second year of the annual Wounded Warriors event at Lobo Landing not only met but also far exceeded the expectations of organizers and participants alike.  The participants, all wounded veterans, were treated to a day of fishing on the Little Red River.  Lobo Landing provided breakfast and volunteer guides for the heroes, who returned to a grilled lunch provided by the always-active Boy Scout Troop 200.


The United Methodist Men and the First United Methodist Church of Heber Springs began organizing this project two years ago when they came upon the national Wounded Warriors Project.  They discovered that Arkansas had its own version of the project called the Freedom Fund, which is run by a council out of Little Rock and is independent of the national Wounded Warriors Project. The Methodist men decided to organize a fishing trip for the veterans and concluded that the Little Red River was the perfect spot for that trip.


Last year was the first year for the event and included 12 to 15 veterans who took part in the trip.


“Last year we had 15, this year we have 33 or 34,” said organizer John Pickell.  “They’ve told their friends and this year we doubled and next year we expect to double again.”


This year’s successful event was made even larger by the support and contributions of many local businesses.


Although the veterans could take a few of the fish that were caught home if they wished, most were returned to the river.


“Caught live, returned live,” said Pickell


This year was especially significant because they had ten wheelchair bound participants in the event.  Pontoon boats were made available to accommodate these veterans.


“Lobo Landing contributed greatly to helping these veterans have a great day,” said Pickell.”


Indeed, Chris Butts, the owner of Lobo Landing, spent the entire morning ensuring these veterans had a fishing trip to remember.


A flag ceremony by Boy Scout Troop 200 and devotional led by Pastor Tommy Toombs were held at lunch.  Heber Springs Parks & Recreation Director Jimmy Clark, representing Heber Springs Mayor Jackie McPherson, and Cleburne County Veterans Service Officer Janet Vogle, representing Cleburne County Judge Jerry Holmes, were on hand to speak at the event.


The success of this year’s event was evident by the cheerful mood of the veterans and if the joy that could readily been seen on their faces was any indicator, then next year’s event promises to be the biggest and best to date.