NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Sept. 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- With more than $1.1 million raised so far this year, War Heroes on Water (WHOW), the landmark Southern California sportfishing tournament that helps combat-wounded veterans recover from the physical, emotional and moral wounds of war, is now the largest nonprofit tournament of its kind in the United States.
Created by loanDepot Founder and CEO Anthony Hsieh in 2018, this year's tournament takes place from October 2-5, 2021 and will be the largest to date, tripling the number of participating veterans to 100 and raising more than $1.1 million to support rehabilitative programs that benefit thousands more.
With the beauty of the natural world and the intensity of team-based competition as the backdrop, WHOW provides combat-wounded veterans with a unique opportunity to forge deep and genuine bonds with other vets, as well as with fleet captains and crews, that become an ongoing safety net and long-term support system.
The tournament is a labor of love for Hsieh, a lifelong angler who's led one of the winningest sportfishing teams in the world and whose best friend was a veteran of the Vietnam War.
Said Hsieh, "Back in 2017 when I first envisioned this tournament, I couldn't have imagined this outcome. At the time my goal was pretty simple: host a small group of veterans to show my gratitude for their service with some great Cabo-style fishing. Their profound appreciation for the weekend set in motion what would become the first War Heroes on Water tournament. I just couldn't believe I could share my lifelong passion for fishing, wrapped in some love and support, and make such a deep impact on their lives. Today what I know for certain is that the work we're doing with WHOW is changing and saving lives, and that work is far from over."
Hsieh points out that in addition to the $1.1 million raised directly, the participating yacht owners' in-kind contributions—which include use of their boats and crews for four days, fuel, tackle, food and more—are estimated at approximately $800,000. Combine the generosity of the direct and in-kind donations with the thousands of volunteer hours given by dozens of tournament volunteers, and the community contribution is impressive.
"We are so grateful to every member of the WHOW community," said Hsieh. "This includes our yacht owners, captains, crews, sponsors, donors, volunteers and partners at Freedom Alliance, all of whose enthusiasm and heart make the tournament possible and mean the world to our veterans."
According to former U.S. Army artilleryman and three-time tournament participant Drew Mewes, "WHOW has helped me more than I could have ever anticipated. It has truly changed my life. The tournament—including the people participating in it and the people who are there to support it—makes all the difference." Mewes served in the Army for seven years, including a deployment to Iraq.
WHOW also shines a spotlight on the challenges veterans face when they return to civilian life and raises funds for the tournament's 501c3 partner, Freedom Alliance, which supports the rehabilitation needs of wounded service members and their families.
"We're grateful for this opportunity to partner with War Heroes on Water," said Tom Kilgannon, president of Freedom Alliance. "The tournament gives our veterans something meaningful to look forward to while also building new lifelines and support among fellow vets and a broad civilian network. All of this goes a long way in helping them to recover from the burdens of war."
In addition to tripling the number of veterans served, this year's event will feature a variety of new and memorable elements, including livestreams of the Community Boat Parade and the post-tournament fish weigh-ins on Catalina's iconic Green Pleasure Pier. Follow the tournament action at warheroesonwater.com.
About War Heroes on Water
War Heroes on Water (WHOW) is an annual sportfishing tournament of unprecedented scale that supports combat-wounded veterans' programs. It was created in 2018 by loanDepot Founder and CEO Anthony Hsieh, who is also the owner and leader of Team Bad Company, a world-class, record-holding competitive sportfishing fleet. Through Hsieh's deep connections with the Southern California sportfishing and business communities, WHOW has grown exponentially over four years and is now the largest nonprofit sportfishing tournament in the US.
About Freedom Alliance
Freedom Alliance is a charitable organization which provides help and support to wounded troops and military families. Freedom Alliance has awarded more than $18 million in college scholarships to the children of military heroes killed or disabled in military service and has spent millions more helping injured veterans and military families with outdoor recreational therapy trips, Heroes Vacations, care packages for deployed troops, mortgage-free homes, all-terrain wheelchairs and much more. To learn more, visit www.FreedomAlliance.org or Facebook.com/FreedomAlliance.
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SOURCE War Heroes on Water