PROJECT HEALING WATERS FLY FISHING, INC. (PHWFF) takes great pleasure in presenting the Patriot Award, PHWFF’s most prestigious award, to Edward (Ed) and Ava Carson, for sustained extraordinary service from 2007 to the present.
Ed Carson, a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer, and his wife, Ava, were originally introduced to PHWFF, while attending a program for the disabled in Arkansas. Inspired by what they heard and observed, they returned home, to Biloxi MS, and undertook establishing a PHWFF program at the Biloxi Veterans Hospital. Working with patience and perseverance, they eventually were able to launch a program there, notwithstanding complications and difficulties encountered in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Enlisting the help of the Mississippi Coast Fly Fishers Club (MCFF), Ed, as the Project Leader of this new program, and assisted by his wife, Ava, began building a solid relationship with the hospital staff and with disabled veteran participants. Through their efforts, and the recognized effectiveness of the program, the Veterans Affairs (VA) staff at the hospital has made the fly tying classes mandatory recreational therapy for all Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Drug Abuse program participants.
Consistent with this couple’s desire to help all disabled veterans at the Biloxi Veterans Hospital, regardless of their injuries or conditions, Ed and Ava also initiated and successfully introduced fly tying and rod building at the hospital’s Blind Center, the only location within the VA system where a structured program such as this is being implemented.
Always looking for opportunities to tell the PHWFF story, and to recruit new participants and volunteers alike, Ed and Ava can be regularly found attending various local functions, setting up tables, and demonstrating fly tying and rod building. Better ambassadors for the PHWFF mission cannot be found. An example of their proactive advocacy is evidenced in the manner that PHWFF was showcased at the grand opening of the new Commissary at Keesler Air Force Base, where Ed and Ava, along with their volunteers, presented over 500 hand-tied flies to the veterans attending that event.
Ed and Ava’s infectious enthusiasm and dedication, and their “take-charge” leadership abilities, have made it easy to recruit the volunteers within the MCFF, rallying around them in providing an exceptional program and slate of services at the Biloxi Veterans Hospital. Although Ed is stepping down as a Project Lead, he and Ava will continue to volunteer with PHWFF.
The Board of Trustees of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. is proud to bestow the Patriot Award to Ed and Ava Carson, for their tireless and extraordinary service to Project Healing Waters, over the past 10 years, in support of the disabled veterans whom this organization serves.