2018-06-09 / Front Page

Reeling in therapy at Healing Waters retreat

By Bill Pekarski
Endeavor News


Even the weather cooperated for the 11th annual Trout Unlimited Project Healing Waters in Potter County. John Fitzgerald, a local Trout Unlimited youth member and guide, helped veteran Vern Dolby reel in this colorful rainbow trout (left). Vern’s son, Ben Dolby (top), also a veteran, landed a beautiful rainbow trout of his own. “Some of the vets are a bit apprehensive about spending time away from home in our remote area,” said Trout Unlimited president Pete Ryan. “By the time it is over, they are very grateful and wishing they could stay longer.” Even the weather cooperated for the 11th annual Trout Unlimited Project Healing Waters in Potter County. John Fitzgerald, a local Trout Unlimited youth member and guide, helped veteran Vern Dolby reel in this colorful rainbow trout (left). Vern’s son, Ben Dolby (top), also a veteran, landed a beautiful rainbow trout of his own. “Some of the vets are a bit apprehensive about spending time away from home in our remote area,” said Trout Unlimited president Pete Ryan. “By the time it is over, they are very grateful and wishing they could stay longer.” Project Healing Waters embarked on its second decade of service to a special segment of the U.S. population – disabled military veterans. Last week’s three-day retreat in the hills of Potter County couldn’t have been more of a success, according to leaders from God’s Country Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

Goal of Project Healing Waters is to aid in the veterans’ physical and emotional recovery by introducing or rebuilding the skills of fly fishing and fly tying, and by supporting these skills as lifelong recreation.

All activities, services and equipment are provided at no cost, including equipment that accommodates special needs.

Participants who come from VA hospitals are headquartered at Moore’s Run Fish and Game Preserve.

“We like to say it is so much more than fishing,” explained Pete Ryan, God’s Country TU president, “These folks spend a few days together enjoying the best that Mother Nature has to offer and, at the same time, enjoy a special fellowship. The stories that they tell just sitting around the table are mesmerizing and timeless.”

This year’s gathering was highlighted by a “small world” moment. Two veterans from different branches of the armed services who had never met discovered that they served at the same base, and at the same time, in Afghanistan. They even flew on some of the same missions.

The 11th annual Healing Waters retreat began with a procession from the New York State border through Shinglehouse, Coudersport and Austin. The veterans followed a motorcycle escort and were greeted by flag-waving citizens along the way.

“This project plays an important role not only in the lives of our honored veterans, but also among our members and the public at large,” said Ryan. “It is heart­warming to parade through town and see everyone waving American flags as a tribute for their service.”

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