Sharing the freedom and experience of fishing on the Kenai River with those who have been wounded while protecting our freedoms through their military service has become a moniker for professional guides on the Peninsula. The program this year will move to August because of the scarcity of king salmon according to Dave Goggia of Hook-y Charters, chairman of this year’s event, “We’re going to target the silvers and pinks this year the first part of August the weekend of the 8th & 9th which should be some great fishing. The ambiance of the Kenai River is what is most impressive to these wounded heroes. There’s healing qualities to sitting in a boat fishing and enjoying time with your buddies. It’ll bring tears to your eyes to hear some of their stories. One guy last year from Tennessee had been homebound for five months, was depressed and didn’t want to do anything until he got invited on this trip and he said it changed his whole life and that’s what this program is all about, another guy told me ‘I have been back from my tour overseas for three months, but this is the first time I felt like I was home.’ It’s something our community does to say thank you in a tangible way,” explained Goggia.
In the past the program has partnered with the national Wounded Warriors organization but now according to Mike Fenton, guide and president of the new Kenai River Foundation organized to keep the program local, “Really the only thing that has changed is the name due to the trademark of the national Wounded Warrior organization we separated our name and established the Kenai River Foundation as our 501c3 as a separate stand-alone organization from the Professional Guides Assoc. and we are calling the event Wounded Heroes so everything can stay local,” said Fenton. The two day event includes a full day fishing on the Kenai River followed by a first class meal and entertainment at the Soldotna Sports an overnight stay followed by another morning of fishing and a barbeque party with prizes and awards, “It’s a fun weekend for them and we can always use volunteers and sponsors. As a community and country we want to give back to these brave men and women and let them know how much we appreciate them and their commitment to our freedom. In past years we have been able to provide experiences for over 645 wounded heroes and their support staff to honor these brave young men and women with a great weekend celebration. I’m sure there will be a lot more fish processing required this year so we’ll need helpers getting the fish off the boats, weighed in and cleaned, so if folks are interested in being involved in the Wounded Heroes program this year they can go to our website at KenaiRiverfoundation.org and register there to volunteer time or donate material items,” said Goggia who can be reached at Phone 907-283-9026 or Mike Fenton at 907-398-3327.