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The River City and Jackson, Tennessee programs of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. held their annual fundraising event on February 20, at High Cotton Brewing Company.

The event included an auction of donated trips, fly rods and reels, and other fishing equipment. Afterward, attendees enjoyed a showing of the 2022 Fly Fishing Film Tour.

The event was a HUGE success! This was our first fundraiser since 2019 and we had approximately 70 people attend. Along with raising money for a good cause, everyone had a great time enjoying a great movie and getting together for the first time in a while. The money raised from this event will allow us to take 10-12 disabled veterans on an overnight fly fishing trip to our trout home waters – the famous trout waters of Arkansas!

phwff tennessee valley deputy regional coordinator frank sospenzi

Sospenzi said that the highlight of the evening was the contacts they made who offered to volunteer for PHWFF, or knew a disabled veteran who would benefit by the program.

“Along with raising money for an overnight outing, we also increased awareness of our local programs,” Sospenzi said.

Sospenzi would like to thank multiple people and organizations for helping to make this event a success. First he would like to thank Ryan Staggs, the owner of High Cotton Brewing Company for donating the venue and the AV equipment for the event. Second, FFI Southern Council President Chris Allen for putting up the money to bring the F3T to town. Arkansas guides Mark Crawford, Steve Dally, and Danny Barker for donating guide trips for the auction. The Memphis Orvis store and Bass Pro Shops for both their donations to the auction and all around support. And the local FFI club, the Mid-South Fly Fishers for their help in advertising the event and fundraiser.

Last but certainly not least, River City participant John Collins. Collins won second place in the 13th Annual PHWFF Fly Rod Building Competition and he demonstrated how to decorative wraps on a fly rod! Along with the demonstration, Collins opened up and discussed how fly rod building helps him heal.

I joined Project Healing Waters to distract my mind from the constant pain three wars brought me. Instead, I found peace and balance,” Collins said about his fly rod building journey.

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