HEBER SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) - For many, it was just another Tuesday in Arkansas, but it felt like Veterans Day to a local group of Wounded Warriors. They spent Tuesday morning fishing the Little Red River near Heber Springs thanks to the Arkansas Freedom Fund's "Freedom Anglers" program.
"I greatly appreciate it, I really do," said Army veteran James Felton, who's recovering from an accident on his motorcycle that happened last year. "Today's been fun. It relieves a lot of stress, it really does. Just being outside, being away from the buildings and just being out on a river helps a lot--helps a great deal."
"It's all about giving back," said Mark Leonard, chairman of the Arkansas Freedom Fund. "We do nothing but the outdoor programs to get the veterans off the couch, out of the hospital and out to enjoy the weather, the camaraderie of the other veterans. They get a chance to do things that they haven't done in a while and just give them a relaxing time. It gives them an opportunity to come out on such a beautiful day and enjoy, have a little piece and quiet, a little tranquility and then catch some nice pretty trout."
"It was wonderful man," said Air Force veteran Kellino Ware. "I had an opportunity to come out and catch some big fish, and it was only my second time in my whole life fishing, and so I really enjoyed myself today. As a veteran, there's not a lot of things that go on like this for us, and so people that volunteer to do things like this for us and show us their gratitude for our service, it really helps out a lot with our self-esteem, you know, because a lot of times we have some problems with that because of how people look at us a lot of times, but we fight for our country. We love our country, and we'd give our lives for it."
The United Methodist Men of Heber Springs teamed up with the Lobo Landing Resort to volunteer and host Tuesday's fishing event, which also included a visit from the Heber Springs mayor and lunch cooked by a local boy scout troupe.