The 14th Annual Mossy Creek Invitational was a wonderful celebration of the Veterans we serve, shared with friends both old and new.
From wonderful meals together, to new friendships formed, to plenty of restorative moments along idyllic Mossy Creek, the connectedness and healing of the weekend was readily apparent.We extend our deepest thanks to all of our friends who so generously support this annual event and all the sponsors who make it happen. It is their dedication and commitment that has helped ensure the success of the Mossy Creek Invitational for so many years.
The whole weekend kicked off with an amazing tour of historic aircraft courtesy of wonderful friends of Mossy Creek, Dynamic Aviation. It’s not every day you get to see the original Air Force One, so this was an outstanding opportunity for our Veterans, volunteers, and sponsors. This learning experience and tour was followed by a fabulous dinner at their picturesque red barn up the hill.
The event provided 15 Veterans with a fun fly fishing competition in which they were paired with a sponsor and professional fly-fishing guide for a memorable day of angling, community, and camaraderie. This year saw the hand-off in directorial duties from John Miko to Dietrich Maune, and like every year since the Mossy Creek Invitational was established, the glue that tied the entire weekend together were the inimitable Bob and Robin Fitch, Don Bell, and Brian Trow. Joan and Dennis Kinney and Dietrich Maune emerged as new members of the Core Team and worked tirelessly in this “year of transition.”
The patriotic support of this special event came from individuals and companies alike. National sponsors Golden Corral, Smithfield Foods, BAE Systems, Inc, CSL Behring, Microsoft, Dynamic Aviation Group, Inc., and The Awesome Friendly Foundation embraced the Veterans served by PHW through their premier sponsorship of the event.
Special thanks to the greater Bridgewater community and local businesses such as Mossy Creek Fly Fishing, Steven Toyota, Bob Wade Autoworld, Harrisonburg Honda, Harrisonburg Hyundai, VAuto, Military Intelligence Corps Association – Potomac Chapter, Sustainable Solutions of Virginia, Engineering Solutions, Media Two Interactive, LLC, Jacktown Restaurants, LD & B Insurance Agency, Vannoy & Associates, Shrock Construction, LLC, Momentum Earthworks, LLC, the Steele Foundation, Inc., and Renzetti, Inc. We cannot forget generous contributions from people in the wider Mossy Creek community, both near and far: Dennis and Joan Kenney, Thomas & Charlotte Trow, Guha Bala, Dan Craytor, Walt Havenstein, Dave Rives, Robert Frisbie, Glenn Nunziata, Sam Chandoha, John & Shirley Seibert, David Secrist, Denise Sousa, Mike Barbero, and Marshall & Dennis Lynch. Plus, the time contributed by all the guides and monitors was both priceless and completely necessary. And the weekend would not be possible without the contribution of essential resources from Reddy Ice, Frank and Kathy Showalter, Ronnie and Debbie Knicely and VA Hunters for the Hungry. Further support came through auction donations from the following: the Washington Capitals, Dietrich and Audrey Maune, Ginger and Donald Usry, Jackie Mann, Sew Caring Stitchers, Jim Harris, David Ray Pine, Eric and Nancy Fitzgerald, Melinda Welker, Smithfield, Andy Shirley and Bridgewater ACE Hardware. The portraits of anglers, delivered to anglers at the end of the fishing day, would not have been possible without the photographic assistance, both on and off the water, of Erica Lewis. It is this community and the unconditional commitment of those who support the Mossy Creek Invitational that we can continue bringing our unique form of therapeutic outdoor recreation to those who have made great sacrifices in the service of our nation.
We are pleased to announce that on Saturday June 3, 2023 over $155,000 was raised to support Project Healing Waters programs across the country and the Veterans in need they serve in their local communities. The Wenger family were honored with this year’s Spirit of Mossy Creek Award for everything they did to ensure the 14th running was a resounding success, while Denise Sousa was recognized for her many generous contributions to PHW through her introduction into the Century Club (she also put in quite a clinic on the creek during the fishing day). It was wonderful and emotional as well to have the Phil Johnson Exceptional Leadership Award recipient, Amanda Thompson, Program Lead of PHW Pittsburgh, on hand to speak on the importance of the volunteer leadership at the core of Project Healing Waters.
That success, however, doesn’t mean our mission is accomplished. If anything, this event showcases how necessary it is that we continue our work. We must do more to serve our Nation’s Veterans in need. As the number of Veterans in need continues to grow nationwide, we will continue expanding program services to those Veterans who would benefit from healing through fly fishing. With you by our side, we know we can continue providing a lifeline that connects Veterans with our volunteers and programs and ensures they can embark on crucial pathways toward post-traumatic growth, resilience, and healing.
15 Veterans were paired with a sponsor and professional fly-fishing guide for a memorable day of angling, community, and camaraderie.
On Friday night before the tournament, our friends at Dynamic Aviation hosted Veterans, sponsors and members of the community for a special tour of historic aircraft and a fabulous dinner in their historic red barn.
Saturday morning started with a bit of casting instruction from Project Healing Waters Founder Ed Nicholson, and an introduction to tenkara from John Miko. Then everyone rigged up rods in anticipation of a great day on the water!
The weather knew it was a special day and cooperated wonderfully. Fish were caught, flies were shared, friendships were made, high fives and laughs abounded.
From the company, to the food, to the idyllic surroundings, to the obvious camaraderie at its very core, the Mossy Creek Invitational is an irreplaceable event, put on by an incredible extended family, both blood-related and otherwise. It is an annual gift that represents wonderfully the best that Project Healing Waters has to offer at every level.