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6-24-17

Hooked On Heroes
Serving Those Who Served

A Sea Trout caught during the April 2016 trip. -Courtesy Photo from www.hookedonheroes.com


By Jeffry Boatright


The late philosopher and author Henry David Thoreau is credited with saying, “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”


While many of us find little consolation in catching no fish, there is something to be said for Thoreau’s philosophy. There are indeed benefits beyond a fish in the frying pan that are derived from the age-old joy of fishing. For some, it is a vocation, others a challenge and many just relish in the isolation and tranquility that is found only while surrounded by nature. Numerous people find joy in fishing with peers, and a fishing trip is often unparalleled in fostering camaraderie.


Ron Cadle understands the joys of fishing, and he also recognizes the therapeutic advantages associated with the leisurely activity or sport. Even more, Cadle realizes the importance of such joy, camaraderie, and even therapy, being offered to our nation’s veterans.


Cadle, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, identifies with the challenges that many of our veterans have endured while serving our country, as well as during the subsequent years of their service. With the unwavering support of his wife, Carolyn, a passion for fishing and an unbridled desire to help his fellow veterans, the Suwannee County resident founded the Hooked on Heroes Corporation in Suwannee County.


“Doing something like this has been a lifelong dream of mine, to be able to do something for our veterans, whether they are just returning home or have been home for years,” Cadle stated. “I know all too well the feeling of being alone and forgotten after coming home from Vietnam. It is a feeling that I do not want any veteran to experience.”


The mission that Cadle has set forth for Hooked on Heroes is to simply carry veterans out for a day of fishing. Not wanting any veteran to experience what he felt after returning from Vietnam, and to help veterans feel that they are a part of something and are not forgotten, Cadle founded Hooked on Heroes. Explaining that Hooked on Heroes is a nonprofit organization that relies solely on volunteers, Cadle said their goal is to host two fishing trips each year for any veteran desiring to go.


“Our mission is to take all veterans,” Cadle explained. He stated that whether they are young, old, with or without disabilities, Hooked on Heroes is dedicated to carrying any veteran for a day of fishing at absolutely no cost to them. “It is an opportunity for them to relax and have a stress-free day alongside other veterans,” he added. “We strive to make them as comfortable as possible and to give them the best opportunity to catch fish and have fun.”


Hooked on Heroes supplies each veteran with a rod, reel, bait, food and drink, and each boat is captained by volunteers from the community. According to Cadle, he and the other volunteers pledge to do whatever it takes to accommodate all disabilities, including those that require a wheelchair. There is no age limit. In fact, the oldest veteran to embark on an excursion with Hooked on Heroes thus far was 96 years of age, at the time of the trip. Cadle acknowledged that a 97-year-old has signed up for the upcoming September outing. In order to accommodate that request, however, he is relying on someone to provide a boat with bathroom facilities.


Ron and Carolyn Cadle both admit the Hooked on Heroes fishing trips would not be possible without the support they have found from members of the community. Now in its third year of treating veterans to a day of fishing, Hooked on Heroes has flourished. The first trip afforded 50 veterans the opportunity to spend a day fishing. The organization has over 220 veteran requests to participate in the next fishing trip. The next trip, which will be the fifth outing for Hooked on Heroes, is scheduled for September 16. Already working diligently to insure a successful trip that serves as many veterans possible, Ron and Carolyn anticipate the upcoming months to be extremely busy. While Carolyn is processing veterans’ requests to go fishing, Ron is busy trying to secure enough boats and operators to carry prospective anglers out.


In addition to the need for boats and captains, there are other needs as well. Fishing rods and reels, artificial bait, tackle, sunglasses, ice chests, hand towels, fillet knives, and even a computer and printer are needed. Of course, volunteers are always appreciated and Ron is elated to disclose that the NJROTC from Suwannee High School has committed to help with the Sept. 16 trip.


Anyone wishing to sponsor a veteran may do so by sending monetary contributions to the Hooked on Heroes main office at 19783 Lancaster Road, Live Oak, FL 32060, or First Federal Bank of Florida at 804 S. Ohio Ave., Live Oak, FL 32064. Checks should be made to Hooked on Heroes Corporation. All donations are tax deductible.


Veterans who wish to participate in a day of fishing should contact Carolyn Cadle at (386) 364-9589 or email her at yesu812@windstream.net. Boat owners who are willing to carry our nation’s military veterans out for a day of fishing in Steinhatchee on Sept. 16, are asked to contact Ron Cadle at (386) 364-9589. Interested sponsors, including corporate sponsors, are encouraged to visit Hooked on Heroes on the web at www.hookedonheroes.com. Everyone is also encouraged to visit the Hooked on Heroes Facebook page and share their page.


Boats are launched from the Sea Hag Marina in Steinhatchee during each fishing trip. According to Ron, the Sea Hag Marina has been fantastic to work with and certainly contributes toward making the fishing trips possible in many ways. One of the day’s highlights for everyone involved is the many donuts that are available prior to setting out for the day’s catch.


At the end of the day, it is all worthwhile for the volunteers of Hooked on Heroes as they see the priceless smiles on the faces of so many veterans who have gallantly served our nation. For those veterans who catch fish, volunteers are on hand to clean the fish and return them to the fishermen to carry home. For anyone less fortunate and unable to land a catch that day, he or she will likely reflect on the timeless words of Henry David Thoreau and relish in the memories of camaraderie and adventure made possible by Hooked on Heroes.


-Courtesy Photo from www.hookedonheroes.com


-Courtesy Photo from www.hookedonheroes.com


-Courtesy Photo from www.hookedonheroes.com