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The Inaugural Healing on the Fly – Boston was held on October 24, 2017 at The Exchange on Boston’s historic waterfront.  The evening brought together Bostonians, New Englanders, veterans, anglers, and advocates for a night of patriotism, support and celebration.  The event was presented by Ropes & Gray, a preeminent global law firm with more than 1,200 lawyers and legal professionals, and chaired by Thomas Lyons, Chairman of the Massachusetts Veteran and War Memorial Commission and recipient of the 2011 “Marine For Life” Award (presented by General James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps) for his 30 years of advocacy on behalf of our nations Veterans.  Thanks to their tremendous support and leadership, a special evening took shape in historic Boston.

The evening began with a cocktail hour and silent auction which provided friends and colleagues, old and new alike, the opportunity to socialize before the dinner and the start of the evenings program.  (check out the slideshow below)

A rousing procession of The Greater Boston Firefighters Pipes & Drum band (led by committee member Kevin Conroy) heralded the start of the evening program and this great musical number set the tone for the evening as all settled into their seats.

PHWFF Chairman Bob Fitch, serving as the evenings Master of Ceremonies, warmly welcomed those assembled and introduced Julie Jones, Partner at Ropes & Gray, who began the evening with powerful and poignant remarks focused upon the purpose of the evening : to provide support, compassion, and healing to those who have honorably served, and sacrificed, for our nation.

Following a rousing round of applause, Chairman Fitch led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and welcomed special guest Rich DiMare to sing our national anthem. Rich was recognized by the Boston Globe as “hottest new lounge singer in Boston” and has over 10 years experience as a professional singer. He has released two albums and is most often compared to modern contemporaries such as Micheal Buble’ and Harry Connick Jr.

Following his powerful rendition, Rabbi Laurence Bazer took the stage to provide the innovation.  In addition to serving as Rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom in Framingham, MA, Rabbi Bazer is also a Colonel and the Joint Forces State Chaplain for the Massachusetts National Guard, and works with the Boston office of the F.B.I.   He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, serving as the Kabul Base Cluster Command Chaplain and Theater Jewish Chaplain where he received the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with one service star along with other accommodations.

As dinner was being served, Event Chairman Thomas Lyons thanked the many sponsors and supporters who helped make the evening possible.  His remarks touched upon the history of patriotism in the greater Boston area, gratitude, and the importance of giving back prior to welcoming his long-time friend and fellow Marine, .President and CEO Todd Desgrosseilliers to address the audience.

After thanking those assembled, CEO Desgrosseilliers recognized the veterans and volunteers in the room before remarking upon the core elements of the PHWFF Program: Fly tying, rod building, fly fishing, and education and the caring and compassion that ties them all together. “Project Healing Waters’ wisdom enabled me to see life from a wider perspective. As one participant told me – Project Healing Waters Programs provide love and hugs – not drugs..This can help us recover – physically and emotionally – and in the end our injuries can become our strengths. We can emerge healed – reborn and reconnected in ways we never thought possible. Project Healing Waters brought life full circle for me and I’m honored to be part of helping other disabled veterans complete their circles as well. Thank you all for your support tonight and for joining our cause!”

Through emphasizing the importance of mentoring, concern, friendship and camaraderie within our programs and their volunteers — CEO Desgrosseilliers transitioned to a special recognition of New England Volunteer Program Lead, and Healing on the Fly Boston Committee Member, Joe Cresta, upon whom he bestowed the PHWFF Distinguished Service Award for his extraordinary efforts serving the veterans in greater Saugus, MA.

Concluding, CEO Desgrosseilliers introduced the evenings final speaker, SSG (ret) George Draper, U.S. Army by reading a letter Draper had written in 2007 to PHWFF Founder Ed Nicholson after his first experience as a PHWFF Participant.  Through this powerful letter, Desgrosseilliers brought his fellow Mainer, veteran, and dedicated PHWFF volunteer leader to the stage to thunderous applause.

Draper spoke of resilience, giving back, and how his transition from participant to volunteer leader changed his life and enabled him to continue serving his fellow veterans: “I’m a firm believer in giving back and passing it forward.  PHWFF has saved my life.”  He currently serves as the Regional Coordinator for New England and his inspirational message moved all in the room — as thunderous applause and a standing ovation following immediately upon his conclusion.


Following a very lively auction and paddle raise hosted by Rich DiMare  – the patriotism, support, and enthusiasm of the crowd was overwhelming.



The evening raised over $120,000 for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing and the disabled veterans and active-duty military service personal its programs serve nationwide.  Thanks to the incredible contributions of Ropes & Gray, our sponsors, and all those in attendance this evening will directly aid in bringing our unique form of therapy to more injured and disabled veterans and active military than ever before.

We are committed to bringing our unique form of therapy to help heal all those who could benefit from it and we are pleased to announce that The 2nd Annual Healing on the Fly Boston will be held on Tuesday, October 23, 2018.

Special thanks to:

Gregory Johnson


Thanks to the several generous auction donors:

Allen Fly Fishing, Abel Reels, Patrick Barone, Pepe Castillo, Dorset Maple Reserves, Nice Fly Rod Racks, Tim Kisieleski, Douglas Dear, Jim Vogel, Dan Morgan, Regal Vises, Mary K The Fish Lady, The Orvis Company, Wingo Belts, Harold Harsh, Sight Lines Provisions, Bob Popovics, Greg Senyo, Eric Hornung, Semper Fly Rods, PHWFF Long Beach, CA Program, The American Museum of Fly Fishing, Goldstar Outfitters, George Draper, Rick Patterson, Richard Diamond, Maine Moose Antlers, Premium Dog Chews, Kenai River Drifter’s Lodge, Keith Tanner, Mahoosuc Inn, Kodiak CPOA, The Seaport Hotel, Jeff Spaulding, Shawn Tibbetts, WhyKnot

Additional thanks to:

Thomas Lyons, Laurence Bazer, Rich DiMare, The Greater Boston Firefighters Pipe & Drum Band, Adam Fliss, Alex Kenney, Bob Fitch, Richard Diamond, Joe Cresta, Kevin Conroy, George Draper, Keith Tanner