For Immediate Release
Hendersonville, North Carolina, March 2021– Tom Carpenter, Director of the Pechmann Fishing Education Center in Fayetteville and North Carolina Regional Coordinator for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing and has become the latest recipient of the region’s Bass/ Laney Memorial award for his long-standing commitment to Project Healing Waters and dedicated service to the veteran participants of the region. The award’s sponsor, Ryan Harman announced the award in a virtual presentation with participants and volunteers of PHWFF in attendance. Also, in attendance and providing remarks were PHWFF CEO, Todd Degrosseilliers and Chairman of Board, Ken Asbury.
In 2016, it was determined that the North Carolina Region of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing needed to establish a high-level award to recognize the Contributions of Volunteers here in North Carolina. Eventually, a general criterion was established and the objective of this became: To Recognize an individual committed to improving the lives of disabled veterans and that through their actions and attitude has inspired those individuals to improve themselves, their fellow veterans and the communities in which they live and serve.
The original name of the award was to be the Larry Laney Memorial Award after Western NC native and one of the early Asheville PHWFF participants. Larry suffered from debilitating arthritis and a degenerative bone condition related to his military service. To see him you would have wondered how he even moved at all, that is until you placed a fly rod in his hand. What emerged, besides and infectious smile was one of the most natural and fluid casting strokes you had ever seen. He was truly a testament to the healing that could occur at the end of a fly rod and an inspiration to everyone that met him.
The recipient of the inaugural award was never in question and in 2017, John Bass was chosen for the honor. Unfortunately, only weeks before the presentation we lost John. For many in PHWFF, John was 10-foot-tall despite the fact he had been confined to that wheelchair for over most of his life. He was the patriarch of PHWFF in North Carolina and perhaps the most impactful volunteer that the organization had anywhere in the country. No one before or since has been responsible for recruiting more participants to PHWFF than John. He believed if he could do it, you sure did not have an excuse not to. It was only fitting that the name of the award to be the Bass/Laney Memorial Award.
“The Bass/Laney Award was created in honor of two individuals that encouraged, inspired and motivated countless numbers of disabled Veterans. Award recipients must not only demonstrate these characteristics but embody them, says Ryan Harman, former PHWFF Trustee and NC Regional Coordinator, “Tom Carpenter, our 2020 recipient, has made these ideals a central focus of all he does, and is a well deserving addition to the Bass/Laney Memorial Award winners.“
Carpenter began serving PHWFF in 2013, as program lead for the Fayetteville/Fort Bragg program in Fayetteville, North Carolina and later as the North Carolina Regional Coordinator. He has been instrumental in creation of the Marabou Madness event which highlights the core fly-fishing activities of PHWFF is held each year at the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission’s Pechmann Fishing Education Center where Carpenter is employed. Marabou Madness hosts veterans from around North and South Carolina and has been highlighted on the nationally recognized outdoor show, the Fly Rod Chronicles with Curtis Fleming. Tom has dedicated his life to teaching fly-fishing and helping others find success. He works closely with Fort Bragg’s Soldier Recovery Unit, Intrepid Spirit Center, and serves on the Fayetteville Veterans Administration’s Volunteer Services Committee and the Southeast Council of Fly Fishers International. For these reasons, the North Carolina Regional leadership has recognized Tom as the embodiment of the spirit of this award and a most deserving recipient. Tom’s passion for fly-fishing, enthusiastic leadership, and devotion to the service of our participants will no doubt prove to have lasting impact on Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, as a whole.