On the evening of March 26, 2019 at the Army Navy Country Club, The Patriot Award was bestowed upon long-time Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing champion, leader, and mentor George Gaines.  The ceremony took place in front of hundreds at the inaugural ‘Healing on the Fly – Northern Virginia’ dinner and was met with the rousing applause befitting this selfless and generous patriot whose dedication and commitment was instrumental in establishing the Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing organization.

The Patriot Award is Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing’s highest and most prestigious award.  It is bestowed upon individuals or organizations that have demonstrated, over time, continuous and extraordinary service to PHWFF as an organization, and to those whom the organization serves.  We are pleased to share George Gaines Patriot Award citation with you below:

(L to R) President and CEO Todd Desgrosseilliers, George Gaines, Chairman Bob Fitch, CPT (ret) Eivind Forseth, SSG (ret) Robert Bartlett, and Vice Chairman David Rives


The Board of Trustees of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) takes great pleasure in presenting the Patriot Award to George Gaines, for his exceptional support and dedication to Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. from 2004 to the present.

During this period, George committed a significant amount of his time and energy to the disabled active duty and disabled veterans we serve in a variety of volunteer leadership positions. In 2004, our Founder contacted him looking for someone to assist with an idea to use fly fishing to help the wounded, ill, and injured servicemen and women at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. George immediately agreed and recognized the potential benefit of fly fishing and its associated activities to provide physical and emotional recovery to our nation’s warriors.

His dedication and commitment proved instrumental to establish our nonprofit organization. After a particularly challenging day with his own health issues, George found respite at the hospital on a newly-constructed patio with a water fountain. Marveling at how this space calmed him, he turned to look at the fountain and saw the name: “Healing Waters” engraved upon it. Our Founder added “Project” and the name Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing was born. George’s advocacy and ability to find volunteers and resources helped establish Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing’s first program at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Initially, George organized and led fly casting sessions with patients on the lawn outside the hospital. This attracted other interested patients and the attention of hospital staff who slowly realized that fly fishing might provide some rehabilitative benefit to their patients. Throughout the years, George remained involved at every step of the way. He helped create the first official organized programs in the summer of 2005.

George was a founding member of the PHWFF Board of Trustees in 2006, a position he held until 2015. He served as the PHWFF National Capital Region’s Regional Coordinator from 2011 until the end of 2018. He also served as a founding member of the PHWFF Field Advisory Council from 2014 until 2017. Over the years he helped develop numerous other volunteers, volunteer leaders, and helped organize PHWFF’s core program activities: fly tying, fly rod building, fly casting, fly fishing education, and fly fishing outings. PHWFF now includes over 220 programs nationwide supported by over 4000 volunteers who serve over 8400 participants. George imbodies the PHWFF vision to create a community where our participants can heal.

All who know George Gaines hold him in the highest regard and speak of him with utmost respect. In addition to countless volunteer hours, George also contributed substantial revenue and in-kind donations to PHWFF. His devotion to our Cause remained unfailing since his first contact with the organization’s Founder in 2004.

The Board of Trustees of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. is proud to bestow on George Gaines the Patriot Award for his tireless and extraordinary service to our organization and to those disabled active duty servicemen and servicewomen and disabled veterans whom this organization serves.