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The 7th Annual Battle at Boxwood brought PHWFF veteran participants, local fishing guides, volunteers, celebrity anglers together at Boxwood Gulch in Shawnee, CO.  The event was held on Saturday, July 22 and provided a day of friendly competition for over 20 veterans as they plied the waters of the North Fork of the South Platte River for its abundant (and huge!) rainbow, cutthroat, and brown trout.  The 1 day competition is comprised of 10 four-man teams (each including a professional guide, sponsor, sports or entertainment celebrity, and two PHWFF veteran participants).  Thanks to the generosity of the Mauritz family and Boxwood Gulch, it takes place each year in a beautiful, restorative, and fish-filled environment.

In addition to the angling competition, The Battle at Boxwood is also one of our premier fundraising events.  We’re pleased to announce that thanks to the many generous companies and individuals, over $75,000 was raised this year in support of our cause and the injured and disabled veterans we serve nationwide!  Our deepest thanks Tournament organizers Steve and Kim Payne, the Mauritz family, and all those who contributed their time, talents, and treasure towards making this such a special day.

The day dawned bright and sunny as the teams, volunteers, and supporters gathered to begin their day on the water.  The morning proved to be great fun with countless trout brought to hand.


After the great morning of fishing, it was time for lunch.  We were honored to once again have The All-American Beef Battalion serving up steak and potatoes, and the local “delicacy” of Rocky Mountain Oysters.  The All-American Beef Battalion is an all-volunteer operation who travel the country sponsoring steak meals, programs, and projects for service members and their families.  During the lunch intermission, attendees were first addressed by President and CEO Todd Desgrosseilliers who thanked the hosts, organizers, sponsors, participants, and volunteers while sharing a bit about our organization – its mission, core programmatic elements, and scope.  “We work to help the healing process with the help of volunteers, people like you,” said Desgrosseilliers. “We teach fly fishing, from fly tying, to casting, to rod building and to come full circle, help our participants catch a fish on that fly they tied and on the rod they built. Educating the veterans on all things fly fishing, helps the disabled veterans heal and learn a new sport.”

Lieutenant Colonel (ret) Justin Constantine, USMC addressed the audience next and shared his journey of recovery.  His personal and inspirational message set the tone for what was to be a great afternoon.  As he so eloquently stated: “We are all stronger than we think we are.  We are all capable of doing amazing things.  We have all overcome adversity.  We have become stronger, smarter and wiser because of the adversities we’ve faced.  I am not thinking about everyday problems while I’m on the water here.  I am thinking about the gorgeous nature, clean air, and the new friends I’ve met today.  I want to help as many as I can because so many have helped me along the way.” 

A unique part of The Battle at Boxwood is that it pairs veteran participants with sports and entertainment celebrities.  Attending this year were Shjon Podein (Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers, Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues), Peter McNab (Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Vancouver Canucks, NJ Devils), Mark Cooper (Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Will Montgomery (Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers, NY Jets, Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears), Jake Grove (Oakland Raiders and Miami Dolphins), Tate Cunningham (Drummer for the rock band, SafetySuit), Brad Maxwell (MN North Stars, Quebec Nordiques, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, NY Rangers), Chris Dahlquist (Pittsburgh Penguins, MN North Stars, Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators), Greg Smith (California Golden Seals, Cleveland Barons, MN North Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Washington) and Karl Mecklenburg (Denver Broncos).  We were also delighted to see great support from numerous Colorado professional sports teams:

NHL alumni took to the river with veterans to raise money for Project Healing Waters at The Battle at Boxwood today!

A post shared by Colorado Avalanche (@coloradoavalanche) on




Following a fish-filled afternoon, each team returned to the Boxwood Gulch lodge to eagerly await the results.   Prior to announcing the winners, a very special presentation was made by Tate Cunningham on behalf of Safety Suit and their fans.  During the past Safety Suit tour, the band hosted backstage “VIP Meet and Give” events after each show with the proceeds being donated to our organization.  Thanks to the selfless generosity and patriotism of Safety Suit and their incredible fans, over $22,000 was raised to support our programs and the veterans they serve.  “Tate Cunningham of Safety Suit has been showing his support of veterans by participating in the Battle at Boxwood for the past 5 years,” says Steve Payne, “for him and the band to step up and have their fans donate $22k to the event and PHWFF is over the top and I can’t thank them enough for the support!!”

(L to R) COO David Folkerts, CEO Todd Desgrosseilliers, Tate Cunningham, and Steve Payne

 As the scores were being tallied, the silent auction wrapped up.  The auction featured an Abel Reel, PHWFF Nippers, an Orvis watch, the hugely popular Rod Vault from Denver Outfitters. and assorted other fly fishing gear.

The Rod Vault from Denver Outfitters continues to be one of the most popular items at PHWFF fundraising events

The fishing was exceptional and Tournament organizers Steve and Kim Payne took great care in recording scores and determining the winners of The 7th Annual Battle at Boxwood.

And the winners are:

3rd Place

3rd Place – Veteran Competitors: Rusty Crick and Don Bailey. Guides: Scott Dickson and Zeke Hersh. Celebrity: Tate Cunningham. Sponsor: Delaney Asbury

2nd Place

2nd Place – Veteran Competitors: Eric Hall and Andy Koloski. Guides: Mike Cruise and Matt Sanderson. Celebrity: Greg Smith. Sponsor: Dave Charpentier

1st Place

1st Place – Veteran Competitors: Brian Gilba and Mike Drew. Guides: Joe Schafer and Jerry Vigil. Celebrity: Jake Grove. Sponsor: Mike Wickersham

The 7th Annual Battle at Boxwood

The 7th Annual Battle at Boxwood was a great success thanks to the great support of Steve and Kim Payne, the Mauritz family, the All-American Beef Battalion, the sports and entertainment celebrities, PHWFF volunteers, the Outdoor Media Group, photographers John West and Tom Woodring, all the supporting companies and individuals, and all those who contributed to this special annual event.

The 8th Annual Battle at Boxwood will take place on July 21, 2018!

Special thanks to all our sponsors for their support of our cause and the thousands of veterans we serve annually across the United States and Germany.  We are honored and humbled by your support.  THANK YOU!