‘It’s a great way to give back’

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The Laishley Park Municipal Marina Community Room in Punta Gorda was transformed with rows of tables, as warriors were given the opportunity to learn a new skill – rod building.

Dan Watson
Dan Watson

“I think it’s fantastic,” Dan Watson, a member of Mosquito Creek Rod Crafters, said of the workshop. “The people putting it on are special people. I’m honored to be a part of it.”

Wounded Warrior Anglers (WWA) held a rod building workshop Sept. 17, through Sept. 20 in partnership with American Tackle Company International. The two full days of rod building concluded with a half-day on the water fishing using the newly constructed rods.

“There is nothing more exciting than catching a fish on the rod you built,” Don Morse, with American Tackle, said.

Don Morse
Don Morse

The nonprofit organization, Wounded Warrior Anglers, offered the first rod building workshop for its warriors earlier this year in Oviedo, Florida. Since it was a huge success, the four-day workshop has been added to the many programs the organization offers for its warriors.

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Morse said the company wants to promote rod building in any way they can. When the opportunity to work with Wounded Warrior Anglers presented itself, he said there was no better group of people to share the craft with.

“I feel a strong connection with these guys,” Morse said of the warriors he has worked with.

Although Mike Kosiba has been fixing rods since the 1960s, he found a passion in 1999 when he began creating custom fishing rods. The seasoned rod builder spent time with 10 Wounded Warrior Anglers sharing secrets of his craft.

Kosiba was joined by four other instructors, all members of the group Mosquito Creek Rod Crafters.

Mike Kosiba
Mike Kosiba

The process of creating a custom rod takes on many steps, all of which stem from selecting a blank depending on the type of fishing one wants to do. The next step, Kosiba said is deciding the dimensions of the rod to best fit an individual’s body type, followed by choosing the rod’s handle.

Guides were then placed on the rod depending where the blank flexes to ensure its efficiency. The guides are then wrapped with thread before an epoxy finish is placed on top.

The craft of rod building, Morse said is both artistic and useful.

“You are crafting something from scratch that is useWWA-Tourney-and-Rods-289-copy-2able,” he said. “Twenty years ago I started building rods. The sky is the limit on things you can use.”

The warriors were carefully walked through the process step-by-step, so they could create a rod they were proud of, a rod they could put to the test out on the water.

“It’s something they can do,” Kosiba said, adding that the warriors can pursue it as much or little as possible.

Tony DelleDonne
Tony DelleDonne

This is the second workshop for Wounded Warrior Anglers’ Tony DelleDonne. “I did a dragon scale on this one.” The style used dry wall tape, and metallic thread.

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The workshop was very relaxing for DelleDonne as he continued to perfect his new skill.

“You have to concentrate,” he said. “You get away for a while, while working at it.”

The 21 year Navy veteran, who retired in 2006, joined WWA a year ago after meeting founders David and Judy Souders, at the Fort Myers Boat Show.

“I like it. It’s very good,” DelleDonne said about joining WWA. “It’s veteran focused (and you) hook up with other vets and you fish and you’re good.”

The workshop was also eye opening for the instructors.

The workshops helped Jr Alvey slow down and think about what kind of impact teaching a new skill has for the warriors.

“It’s a great way to give back,” he said.

Jr Alvey
Jr Alvey

Alvey, who was also a part of the first rod building workshop, said he hopes to spend more time with the warriors in order to get to know them better.

“The guys are invited anytime to visit and get one-on-one (instruction). We are just a phone call away,” he said.

The passion for many of the instructors formed many years ago.

Alvey fell in love with rod building eight years ago. Over those years he has found his signature look – incorporating cork into the rod design.

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“I cut them up and make different sizes,” he said before gluing them back together. “It helps keep my mind busy.”

For Kosiba, rod building continues because it’s all about “building the perfect rod,” which has yet been accomplished. A perfect rod, he said would consist of every joint fitting perfectly with flawless, straight guides.

Watson said he became involved with the group Mosquito Creek Rod Crafters 15 years ago. He said the group gathers once a month in the Orlando area.

“I like the people. It’s a great bunch of people,” Watson said of Mosquito Creek Rod Crafters.

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Wounded Warrior Anglers is a nonprofit organization that helps rehabilitate the mind, body and soul of all service members who have been injured, wounded, or disabled in the line of duty no matter what their era of service. The organization also has a mission to actively support the wounded warrior’s caregiver and their immediate family.

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All photographs are courtesy of Dorene Lowe Photography – a Southwest Florida photographer out of Punta Gorda, Florida. To view more of her photographs, visit https://www.facebook.com/dorenelowephotography, or to schedule a session, call (941) 467-5015.

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Article written by Meghan McCoy, Wounded Warrior Anglers media director.

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Golf tourney deemed success

As 8 a.m. struck Saturday, Sept. 19, a slew of golf carts exited the Myerlee Country Club with more than 40 golfers eager to participate in the first annual Golf Tournament to benefit Wounded Warrior Anglers – Southwest Florida Region.

WWA-Tourney-and-Rods-056-copy-2Ralph Camp, a member of the Southwest Florida Region Chapter and tournament director, said it was a very good day.

“I have some things in my head if they want to do this again that will hopefully make it a little better,” Camp said. “It’s about raising funds and having fun. As far as I know, everybody had a good time. ”

Justin Juha, owner of Bobbin Pools in Cape Coral, was among one of the golfers who showed their support. He said he decided to form a team – Marc Barbato, Mike Danielewski and Tom Ciaverilla – after one of his customers invited him to play in the scramble.

Bob & Pools won first place.
Bobbin Pools won first place.

The group’s texts began about two weeks ago as the excitement grew about the outing Saturday.

Although they did not know anything about the organization before attending, Juha and his teammates had a blast out on the golf course, knowing they were supporting Wounded Warrior Anglers.

Bobbin Pools won first place, a $200 prize, which was donated back to the organization.

The second place winners, Team 14, which was comprised of Antoine LaChapelle, who has donated his time to take Wounded Warrior Anglers members out fishing for the past three years, Jeremy Johnson and Jill Dean.

Jeremy Johnson, Antoine LaChapelle and Jill Dean won second place.
Jeremy Johnson, Antoine LaChapelle and Jill Dean won second place.

“I like playing golf and I like to participate in any fundraisers for the organization,” LaChapelle said.

His team won $100.

Wounded Warrior Anglers Board Member Kevin Santos also participated in the golf scramble with his team Coastline Boat Lift Covers with Pete Paskewicz,Tom and Terri Sobeck.

“I think it’s pretty good for our first time,” Santos said of the turnout. “I think we are all having a good time. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.”

Team Coastline Boat Lift Covers won third place, a $60 prize, which was donated back to the organization.

“I love it,” Terri said shortly after the tournament began out on the green. “It’s been a great day.”

She said she thinks Wounded Warrior Anglers is a fantastic organization that does a lot of good for the community.

Pete Paskewicz, Terri and Tom Sobeck and Kevin Santos won third place.
Pete Paskewicz, Terri and Tom Sobeck and Kevin Santos won third place.

Prizes were also provided to golfers who hit the ball closest to hole 6, John Tedesco and hole 14, Ann Johnson.

Tom Ciaverilla walked away with a prize for hitting the longest drive at hole 4, and Louise Cannizzaro won a prize for hitting a straight drive at hole 9.

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Camp recruited many volunteers for the golf scramble who helped with the live auction and 50/50 raffle that was set up inside the clubhouse. Those volunteers included Barbara Camp, Mary Kay, Bentley Heylinger, Frank DePace, Rich Laudermilk and Charlie Greenholdt.

The live auction generated $730 for the organization.

Camp said they sold $185 in mulligans and had $445 in the 50/50 raffle sold before the scramble began. The players also had another opportunity to try their chances at winning the 50/50 raffle after they were done playing the course, increasing the total to $535.

LaChapelle won the raffle and donated the money back to the organization.

“The donation is just good karma,” LaChapelle said.

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Ralph Camp and his volunteers.

Greenholdt joined the Wounded Warrior Anglers – Southwest Florida Region after moving to Cape Coral full-time almost a year ago after he learned about the organization from his neighbor Camp. The disabled veteran served in the United Sates Army for three years during the Korean War.

“This is great,” he said Saturday morning. “I’ll certainly volunteer and do what I can. It’s a great group of people.”

The Wounded Warrior Anglers became a way for Greenholdt to get to know other veterans, while enjoying one his favorite hobby’s – fishing.   

Every two months, the Southwest Florida Region chapter pulls two or three membership cards out of a hat for a fishing outing.

“It’s a great bunch of guys,” he said, adding that Wounded Warrior Anglers is the only organization he belongs to.

WWA-Tourney-and-Rods-120-copy-2Heyliger joined the Southwest Florida Region chapter of Wounded Warrior anglers on Sept. 15. The Army veteran joined the service in March 1976 and retired on March 31, 2015.

“I love it,” Heyliger said about the organization. “I think it’s nice to be together with a brotherhood. Here you know you got real friends.”



Wounded Warrior Anglers is a nonprofit organization that helps rehabilitate the mind, body and soul of all service members who have been injured, wounded, or disabled in the line of duty no matter what their era of service. The organization also has a mission to actively support the wounded warrior’s caregiver and their immediate family.



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All photographs are courtesy of Dorene Lowe Photography – a Southwest Florida photographer out of Punta Gorda, Florida. To view more of her photographs, visit https://www.facebook.com/dorenelowephotography, or to schedule a session, call (941) 467-5015.



Article written by Meghan McCoy, Wounded Warrior Anglers media board of director