Music, golf and fish – tons and plenty of fish. That’s how Steve and Jamie Lloyd, founders of Naples Take a Soldier Fishing, ended their 11th annual three-day occasion that introduced practically 150 troopers collectively in Florida.
“It was nice,” Jamie Lloyd mentioned in an interview with Fox Information.
And due to Hurricane Irma final yr, this time round, the occasion was larger than ever.
“We’ve to cancel due to Hurricane Irma final yr, so we had a surplus of funds,” she mentioned. “So we spent it on one other evening for the troopers.”
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The pair mentioned round 145 to 150 troopers participated within the weekend fishing occasion — about ten greater than they normally have.
“We prefer to maintain it round 140, only for logistics and coordinating with the boats. Any larger and it may take away from what the troopers are capable of do whereas they’re right here,” Jamie mentioned.
Whereas they’re in Naples, Jamie mentioned the troopers are handled to free lodge stays, a Thursday evening dinner, free golf on Friday after which a fishing event all Saturday morning – together with breakfast, lunch and dinner all donated from eating places within the space.
“We wish them to really feel like rock stars,” Jamie mentioned. “As a result of within the eyes of folks that don’t perceive what they do, they are surely rock stars.
“Have a look at the place we reside, we reside in paradise. Have a look at what they do,” she added.
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Although Jamie mentioned this yr there have been no record-breaking catches at this yr’s event, the groups had fun fishing for snook and pink fish.
“The 2 groups that got here in first — that they had the very same dimension snook and the very same dimension pink fish,” she mentioned, earlier than revealing crew that caught a catfish was the one record-breaker.
The troopers don’t win something monetarily, however Jamie mentioned they get to stroll away with bragging rights.
“We’ve a neighborhood place that donates some trophies for the successful crew, too,” she mentioned.
Jamie and her husband got here up with the Take a Soldier Fishing concept 11 years in the past, after listening to that one other group was taking army members out fishing in Tampa.
“We thought, ‘Why Tampa? We’ve the perfect fishing in Naples. We ought to be bringing troopers right here,’” Jamie mentioned.
Thus began the Naples Take a Soldier Fishing enterprise, which focuses on primarily active-duty army — although retired and wounded veterans are nonetheless allowed to take part.
“Once we first began, it was only a day factor. A barbecue and a few fishing,” Jamie mentioned. “We solely had 35 troopers.”
“After which every year we simply did a little bit bit extra, and it acquired a little bit larger,” she continued. “It unfold simply type of like wildfire. Folks heard about it and needed to assist out.”
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Now the couple says they work laborious all yr to fund the outing, elevating cash with fundraisers and getting native companies to sponsor.
“They go away their households so we don’t need to.”
“Hamilton Harbor Yacht Membership donates their workers and whole space only for the troopers for the day,” Jamie mentioned.
And Steve and Jamie see no stopping of their future.
“They go away their households so we don’t need to,” she mentioned. “We have to present them why they’re so essential.”