Published: 8/23/2012 2:37:08 PM
Farm opens up to wounded warriors, Gold Star Families
More than 50 Soldiers and Family members from the Gold Star and wounded warrior communities came out for a day of fishing, fun and camaraderie at Cumberland Farms, Saturday.
Patriot Hunts, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing outdoor experiences for wounded warriors and Gold Star Family members, sponsored the event.
Many anglers, some for the first time, enjoyed fishing for brim, catfish and hybrid striped bass, while using wiggly crickets for bait.
There were also ATVs to ride around the 650-acre farm and an archery stand set up for target practice.
Dmarne King brought his daughter, Victoria, 4, to fish for the first time.
“It’s a chance for me to come fishing with her before I deploy. (Victoria) always wanted to do it. I never had the opportunity to do it before. I’m really grateful to these people to let us come on their farm,” said King.
The Askin Family was also enjoying the pond. Faith, 8, said her three fish were more than her brothers William, 11, and J.J., 6, who caught two each. “It’s fun Family time,” said Christina, the children’s mother, while dad Jesse was keeping busy with the three young anglers.
“I’m putting bait on and taking fish off,” he said.
“It was a wonderful day. Anytime (the Families) have a chance to be together it’s a great experience for them. (The Families) had rave reviews and asked me ‘when will we do it again?’” said Amy Melendez, Survivor Outreach Services support coordinator.
Melendez turned out to be an expert at hooking crickets for bait, as some of the Family members appeared to be a little squeamish. SOS is part of Army Community Service.
Patriot Hunts founders, Ken Barnard and his wife, Pam, started the organization in 2006 with a youth dove hunt with 60 Soldiers and their Families. Since then, Patriot Hunts has sponsored many activities for the military community. Many people and organizations have stepped up and volunteered.
Enter John Marinelli, owner of Cumberland Farms.
“John called me last year and said ‘we wanted to give something back (to the military community) and someone gave us your name,’” said Barnard. Since then, Cumberland Farms has hosted two duck hunts, one for wounded warriors and the other for Gold Star Family members.
Barnard said Marinelli was so moved by the experience of meeting the military Families that he called again to volunteer his property for the military. “(Marinelli) called me and said ‘we’d like to do something else.’ I said, ‘why don’t we take some Gold Star kids and some wounded warriors and active-duty Families and pick a date?’ That’s where this came from,” said Barnard. “(The Marinellis) are pro-American, pro-military. They’re just true patriots and I’m tickled to death to know them.”
Marinelli said he and his Family are just happy to give back to the military community.
“It’s really special to have these children around here and these Soldiers. I’ve been very fortunate in my life. I have been approached to do many things and there’s nothing like this. There are a lot of good causes out here, right? What’s more important than this? People who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Nothing compares,” said Marinelli.
Marinelli plans to hold a corporate fundraiser for Patriot Hunts in the fall. “We got to do more for the military. Shame on us, especially right here in eastern North Carolina,” he said.
For more information about Patriot Hunts, visit www.patriothunts.org. To find out more about SOS, visit www.fortbraggmwr.com/acs/survivor-outreach-services or call 396-0384.
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