WESTFIELD - Wounded combat veterans have the opportunity to take a relaxing, cost-free getaway on Lake Erie.
Cast Away Charters, owned by Capt. Fred and Darlene Forsythe, has been offering the annual "Fishing With Heroes" trips to wounded veterans since 2010. The trip includes meals, lodging, awards and fishing, provided at no cost to combat-injured veterans - all that is required is a $5-10 fishing license and transportation to Westfield.
This year, the "Fishing With Heroes" weekend is planned for July 18-20. Up to 16 veterans will be able to participate.
Jammy Noyes, a Jamestown veteran who has participated with the annual “Fishing With Heroes” trip on Lake Erie.
Travis Harvey, a Jamestown veteran who has participated with the annual “Fishing With Heroes” trip on Lake Erie.
Alongside Cast Away Charters, five other charters that frequent Lake Erie will facilitate the event.
"A lot of it is just being able to get away," Forsythe said. "It's a chance (for veterans) to relax, fish and have a good time."
The "Fishing With Heroes" schedule of events includes: a chicken barbecue and fish fry on Friday; a breakfast, a day of fishing aboard area fishing charters and a banquet and awards presentation on Saturday; and a breakfast on Sunday.
If the weather is uncooperative, Sunday can also be a make-up fishing day.
"We have 40 to 45 volunteers that work with us for the weekend," Forsythe said.
According to Forsythe, the weekend is completely funded for this year from various sponsors throughout the area.
"Some of the participants are well-off physically, others are severely handicapped," Forsythe said. "We have the capabilities for those with hand injuries to use electric poles."
Forsythe is also planning on taking groups of two to four veterans for fishing excursions during weekdays - mostly Wednesdays.
"Sometimes the veterans are hesitant to get ahold of us - we want them to get involved," Forsythe said. "They sacrificed and we want to do this for them."
This year, Forsythe is hoping to get a minimum of 45 veterans out to experience a fishing trip.
"Our goal is to get these spots filled," Forsythe said.
In 2013, Cast Away Charters facilitated fishing trips for 23 wounded veterans.
The Forsythes began the "Fishing With Heroes" weekend after watching the struggles of their son, a combat-injured Iraq veteran and Purple Heart recipient who also participates in the event, and his friends.
To participate in a fishing trip, contact Forsythe at 560-9216 or 814-274-7465.
For more information, visit www.castawaycharters.net.