Silverthorne hosts fourth annual Fly Fishing Film Tour to benefit veterans | SummitDaily.com

Silverthorne hosts fourth annual Fly Fishing Film Tour to benefit veterans

After a day of fishing in 2009, Larry Lunceford and Mike Oros were sitting around a campfire talking about how they could help veterans.

Both Lunceford and Oros had grown up in the Vietnam era, a time when veterans were sometimes not treated well upon returning home. When veterans began coming back in 2007 after the war sparked by the 9/11 attacks, Oros said that he began to see a repeat of that treatment. Veterans were being left to fend for themselves.

"The 'Ra-ra, Go America' stuff had kind of faded after 9/11," he said.

For him, putting an event together was about serving those who had served the country.

"This really just came from a couple of guys wanting to help soldiers," Lunceford said.

The pair wanted to create an event that would combine fly-fishing with helping vets heal. This led them to Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, and the Fly Fishing Film Tour event. They were able to bring the program to Summit County in 2010. Now, the town of Silverthorne will host the fourth film tour event and silent auction, with the proceeds benefitting Project Healing Waters, on Feb. 16. Cutthroat Anglers and Mountain Anglers, local fishing stores, helped to organize the event, which will be held at the Silverthorne Pavilion.

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Project Healing Waters aims to take the calm of fly-fishing to connect disabled vets with peaceful rehabilitation, and develop camaraderie. The program also focuses on physical aspects, such as improvement of motor skills. Oros said that recreation has been on the forefront of studies, showing that it helps people to heal as an alternative form of therapy.

Veterans come from across the state to areas in Summit to pick up fly-fishing skills. Oros said that the program also helps to fund equipment since the sport can be expensive initially. In addition to the physical activity, Oros said that the program is beneficial in helping vets reconnect with others.

"One-third of our guides are Vietnam veterans or from other programs," he said. "It's extremely important for veterans to reconnect with other veterans in their civilian life."

James Buckley, the owner of Cutthroat Anglers, has been working with Project Healing Waters for the last six years. "Every once in a while you run into charitable event … and it just kind of grabs your heart," Buckley said.

Buckley said that they wanted to base the Summit film event off the one in Colorado Springs, which is one of the largest Project Healing Waters events in the country. He added that the fundraiser travels nationally starting in January, making Summit one of the earlier stops on the tour.

The first year the event was held in Summit, Buckley said that it was small, with only a couple of volunteers. But fundraising did better than expected.

"The first year someone predicted that we would be lucky to raise $4- or $5,000, and I think we raised $21- or $22,000," Buckley said.

Fundraising continues to grow every year, with between 300 and 350 people attending the event. Part of the success in fundraising is due to the community, as well as expansion of sponsorships. But Buckley also said that volunteers have become an integral part of the organization.

"We're starting to get a broader base of volunteers who are willing to go out and seek funds for the event," Buckley said.

Tickets are still on sale for $12 at Cutthroat Anglers and Mountain Anglers. Tickets will also be on sale at the door for $15. The films will start at 7 p.m., but doors open at 5 p.m. for food, drinks and the silent auction.

Buckley said that Project Healing Waters is about more than spending a simple day on the water. To him, the program has visible benefits for the veterans participating in it.

"It's not just a bunch of guys going out fishing that's for sure," Buckley said. "I'm no psychiatrist, psychologist or anything like that, I'm just, you know, a guy out there who's trying to help, and it's just amazing."

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