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On Tuesday, October 5, the Roanoke/New Rivers Program of PHWFF met at the DAV community center in Salem, VA for their monthly fly-tying meeting.

We meet on the first Tuesday of every month to tie flies, tell lies, make plans, and enjoy the special comradery that our group shares.

PHWFF Roanoke Volunteer Kathy Mueller

Volunteer Kathy Mueller said that a large group of veteran participants and volunteers show up every month and share such a special bond.

This week, the program had three tables, or stations, each with a different fly.

“Three of our volunteers led tables tying flies for our fall fishing events – the October Caddis, the Shakey Bealy, and the Autumn Splendor Streamer,” Mueller said.

One of the highlights was watching participant Seyward McKinney learn to tie without the use of her right arm.

Inspired by the events of 9/11, McKinney enlisted in the Army right out of high school. After a tour in Iraq, she returned to Fort Lewis and started suffering severe debilitating headaches. She was then diagnosed with arteriovenous malformations, or AMV, which is a defect of arteries and veins in the brain. In 2009, McKinney’s condition deteriorated to a point where she experienced a stroke. The stroke left her unable to walk, talk, or have mobility in her right arm. McKinney then received extended rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

My participation in Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing has been special. They’ve taught me to fly fish and to tie flies with one hand. They’ve provided me special equipment such as fly reels, boots, and fly tying tools to improve my fishing and my coordination. Most importantly, I’ve befriended many other veterans and dedicated volunteers who make me again feel the close comradery of the service.

PHWFF Roanoke/New River Valley Participant seyward mckinney
PHWFF Roanoke/New River Valley Participant Seyward McKinney Perfecting the Whip Finish with one hand using the Evergreen Hand

All of the flies tied at the three tables were graciously donated after the fact to the programs’ Ladies’ Knapp’s Creek overnight fishing event in Marlinton, WV which will take place in the upcoming week.

Mueller would like to thank the DAV Community Center for graciously hosting the fly-tying every month as well as Roanoke program volunteers Rosie and Joy for planning and organizing materials every month for the flies they tie at each meeting.

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