Record-breaking 125 veterans competing in this year's tournament on more than 50 sportfishing Yachts
Community lined the banks of Newport Harbor to cheer on our nation's heroes during patriotic boat parade
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Sept. 25, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- The highly anticipated 2022 War Heroes on Water (WHOW) sportfishing tournament for combat-wounded veterans kicked off Saturday. Returning for its stunning fifth year, the transformative sportfishing tournament off the coast of Southern California helps combat-wounded veterans recover from the physical and emotional wounds of war through the creation of deep and meaningful relationships forged through the thrill of a world-class sportfishing competition.
Veterans received a hero's welcome when they arrived at the kick-off reception in Newport Beach yesterday, where they gathered with captains, crews and supporters. At the event, Tom Kilgannon, President of Freedom Alliance, WHOW's philanthropic partner and WHOW founder Anthony Hsieh shared inspiring words about our nation's heroes before country music star Tyler Rich performed a special acoustic set, returning to show his appreciation for the third year.
In reflecting on this year's events, WHOW founder Anthony Hsieh shared, "All of this is for these brave men and women—all the spirit, all the effort, all the donations—it's all for you. In harnessing the healing power of the open ocean, as well as of the close friendships formed on board, we hope to continue making an impact on the lives of our veterans and their families."
Following the speeches and music, Tournament Director Rod Halperin joined Hsieh on the dock to send off a record breaking 125 veteran participants, many of whom have received some of our nation's highest military decorations including the Silver Star and Bronze Star Medals, and the Purple Heart. This year's WHOW fleet includes more than 50 of the west coast's finest sportfishing vessels, each donated to the tournament by generous SoCal patriots, some participating for the fifth straight year.
Giving the veterans a proper send-off, Freedom Alliance scholarship recipient Haley Nicole Taylor sang a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem as the Orange County Honor Guard presented the American flag. Before heading out to sea, the WHOW fleet paraded around the harbor in a stirring display of patriotism.
"The enduring connections we've seen come out of WHOW are truly irreplaceable, as the collaborative nature of this on-water event is supportive of healing and growth for all involved – it saves lives," said Tom Kilgannon, president of Freedom Alliance. "Beyond directly serving veterans on the water, the money raised by WHOW allows us to support thousands more heroes and their families through therapeutic services and programs such as the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund."
A silent auction was also held Saturday, brought to life by generous volunteers and donors. The auction generated more than $200,000, meaning WHOW raised well over $1 million this year and $5 million total since its inception, supporting thousands of veterans through Freedom Alliance's year-round therapeutic services and scholarships for combat-wounded service members and their families.
Aboard the boats, SoCal's finest fishermen will share their knowledge of local waters and expert fishing techniques to get their veterans on fish as they vie for ranking points and trophies across a variety of categories.
The WHOW fleet will gather again on Monday, September 26 at 5pm outside Avalon Harbor for the tournament's closing ceremonies, which include a flyover of vintage WWII aircrafts. Yachts with catches over 100 pounds will head to Catalina's iconic Green Pier to participate in the Tournament's weigh in celebration, which will be live streamed from 5pm to 10pm. Once the catches are weighed, the fleet will return to Newport Beach for a heartfelt awards ceremony at the Lyon Air Museum Tuesday, September 27.
About War Heroes on Water
War Heroes on Water (WHOW) is an annual sportfishing tournament of unprecedented scale that supports combat-wounded veterans' programs. It was created by Anthony Hsieh, who is also the owner and leader of Team Bad Company, a world-class, record-holding competitive sportfishing fleet. Through Hsieh's deep connections with the Southern California sportfishing and business communities, WHOW has grown exponentially over five years and is now the largest nonprofit sportfishing tournament in the US.
About Freedom Alliance
Freedom Alliance is a charitable organization which provides help and support to wounded troops and military families. Freedom Alliance has awarded more than $20 million in college scholarships to the children of military heroes killed or disabled in military service and has spent millions more helping injured veterans and military families with outdoor recreational therapy trips, Heroes Vacations, care packages for deployed troops, mortgage-free homes, all-terrain wheelchairs and much more. To learn more, visit www.FreedomAlliance.org or Facebook.com/FreedomAlliance.
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SOURCE War Heroes on Water