On the Kenai Peninsula, fishing can be much more than a hobby. It can be a therapeutic experience.
Spending time on the aquamarine water, listening to it gurgle and flow while waiting for a salmon to bite -- it can soothe the troubled soul. And, once a fish hits, the adrenaline surge that comes from fighting it out can be an equally enjoyable juxtaposition.
This weekend these rejuvenating piscatorial powers will be put to good use as 100 active military members will take up rods and reels for the second annual Kenai River Wounded Warrior fishing event.
"We're going to bring down 75 soldiers from Fort Richardson and 25 down from Fort Wainwright for two days of fishing and fun," said Dave Goggia, vice president of the Kenai River Professional Guide Association, a major sponsor of the event, along with Eagle Claw, Central Peninsula Hospital, the Alaska State Elk Association and many others.
The weekend events will start Saturday at noon with a guided fishing trip, followed later by dinner and entertainment, according to Goggia. "We'll take them king fishing out of Centennial (Park), then we'll go over to the Alaska Christian College for a first class dinner with steak and shrimp, and Hobo Jim will play and provide the entertainment," he said.
Sunday's activities will start bright and early with breakfast at 5 a.m., after which the troops will take to the water again for another day of guided fishing.
"The day will end with a barbecue with a Hawaiian luau theme at Harry Gaines'. The Elks will be roasting a whole pig," Goggia said.
Each soldier will also go home with a variety of door prizes donated by the community, he added.
While the military personnel will all be aiming to take home a trophy-sized salmon, Goggia said while it would be nice, the true purpose of the day isn't to fill their freezers with meat.
"They have sacrificed so much so we can continue to enjoy our freedom, so this is a great way to give back to them and show our appreciation for all they do," he said.
Goggia said he knows the weekend of fishing and fun activities go a long way for the soldiers, based on feedback he got after last year's event.
"A guy last year told me he had been back for months, but this event was the first time he felt at home," he said.
Volunteers and donations for door prizes are still being sought for the event. To participate or contribute, contact Dave Goggia at 252-3503 or Lisa Young at 335-1802.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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