Dinner to raise funds for veterans’ fishing trips

By Jami Makan

An upcoming fundraising dinner aims to raise awareness about Salmon for Soldiers, an initiative that provides opportunities for veterans to go fishing.

The dinner will take place on Saturday, March 23 at 6 p.m. at American Legion Post 86. Proceeds will support Salmon for Soldiers, which was established in January 2013 in order to offer a sense of normalcy and relaxation to America’s veterans through fishing.

The organization’s fishing opportunities are designed to help reduce stress, and can accommodate veterans with paralysis, PTSD, traumatic brain injury and other debilitating challenges.

Over the past year, the all-volunteer nonprofit took more than 120 veterans and active duty military members on guided trips throughout Washington and Alaska, according to co-founder Randy Shelton. Their annual event in September, known as the Day of Honor, had over 600 people in attendance last year at the Port of Everett.

“We’ve steadily grown, and it’s been meaningful fun,” said Shelton.

Salmon for Soldiers hires professional guides throughout the year who are insured, bonded and licensed. “We’re pretty selective in terms of who we send our folks out with,” he said. For people to come out on these trips, they have to prove that they served honorably.

The dinner is being organized by Debbie Morley, whose brother is a veteran. Morley said that the fishing trips are a way for veterans to have a safe place where they can feel comfortable discussing their experiences. “It’s a nonprofit group that is trying to use boating and fishing as the vehicle to help veterans who just need some space and want to get away from things,” she said.

She said one goal of the dinner is to attract boat owners who can volunteer their boats and their time. Another goal is to attract retired military members who can accompany vets on fishing trips and serve as mentors.

“I would like to thank the Legion for hosting the event,” said Morley. “Their focus is 100 percent on helping vets and their families, and it’s really terrific for them to help.”

The dinner will feature steelhead trout and costs $15 per person. Reservations are required by Thursday, March 21 and can be made by calling or texting Morley at 360/303-5720.

Sea Cadets will kick off the night with a color guard, and following the event, attendees can enjoy live music and dancing upstairs.

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