Establishes supportive safety net for participants that extends well beyond tournament dates
$1.7 million fundraising goal will bring total raised to $5 million since tournament inception for 501c3 Freedom Alliance
Country music star Tyler Rich to perform acoustic set for participants
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., July 19, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- War Heroes on Water (WHOW), the transformative sportfishing tournament that helps combat-wounded veterans recover from the physical and emotional wounds of war, returns for its fifth and largest tournament to date. Taking place September 23-27, 2022, the event will directly serve 125 heroes aboard 50 sportfishing yachts from Southern California and beyond. Organizers seek to raise a record $1.7 million, contributing to a landmark $5 million raised over the life of the tournament for its 501c3 partner Freedom Alliance.
"As a proud American, it is my greatest honor to demonstrate our gratitude for the sacrifices our veterans have made for our country," said WHOW Tournament Founder and loanDepot Founder and Executive Chairman Anthony Hsieh. "When I envisioned this tournament, my goal was to introduce the healing aspect of the open ocean to a group of veterans. What the tournament has grown to become—a community dedicated to providing care and support to veterans year-round—is beyond my wildest dreams, and I am humbled by the commitment and dedication of my fellow anglers and local community members who are making all of this possible."
At the heart of the WHOW tournament are dozens of participants and volunteers, including the owners, captains and crews of the WHOW fleet, who, collectively, represent a monetary donation of hundreds of thousands of dollars—as well as hundreds of hours—to host the veterans for the three-day on-water component of the tournament. These patriots graciously welcome their veteran guests so that they can experience the healing power that comes with being on the open ocean, enable them to form deep and genuine bonds with their fellow team members and establish a long-term support system that extends well beyond the tournament itself.
The tournament also celebrates the lives of fellow veterans through two special awards—the Ron Ashimine Award, created in memoriam of the Vietnam veteran and lifelong friend of Tournament Founder Anthony Hsieh, and the Josh Miles Award, created in memoriam to honor the legacy of the tournament's beloved collaborator, veteran and colleague who passed away unexpectedly in late 2021. These awards, celebrating Top Angler and Top Boat, respectively, are highly coveted by participants and evoke strong emotions during the heartfelt awards ceremony.
While the tournament itself is strong on pageantry, it is its long-term purpose—to create, and reinforce, lifelong bonds, that shines bright throughout the year. Participating veterans leave with exceptional on-water memories but, more important, a supportive network that is accessible 24/7 for the rest of their lives.
As 2021's top angler, Ret. Marine Corporal Larry Draughn, shared as he took top honors, "This tournament has brought us all together and enabled us to be in each other's lives and fill a void. The outdoors saves lives, the outdoors saved my life, and there are a lot of other veterans struggling and if we can save one life, it's worth it."
This year's WHOW tournament activities kick-off with an intimate welcome reception including a silent auction and an acoustic performance by country music star Tyler Rich, who returns for his third year. Veterans will then board their boats and enjoy a patriotic community boat parade through Newport Harbor before heading out to sea. Once on the water, the prowess of SoCal's finest fisherman will take center stage as each team shares its knowledge of the local waters and expert fishing techniques to get their veterans on fish. The tournament closes with the fleet assembling just outside Avalon harbor—creating a sweeping vista of exceptional fishing talent—for a flyover of vintage WWII planes.
The generous support of the WHOW family of donors and volunteers over the years has helped the event to directly heal 200 veterans on and off the water. Funds raised also benefit thousands more across the country through Freedom Alliance, which provides year-round therapeutic services for combat-wounded service members and their families.
"WHOW is one of the most impactful events for our combat veterans and it's incredible to see the sportfishing community in SoCal come together in such a big way to support of our nation's heroes," said Freedom Alliance President Tom Kilgannon, "The relationships between our veterans and everyone in the WHOW family that have formed throughout the years are truly inspiring, and we're so grateful for everyone who supports the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country."
About War Heroes on Water
War Heroes on Water (WHOW) is an annual sportfishing tournament of unprecedented scale that supports combat-wounded veterans' programs. It was created in 2018 by loanDepot Founder and Executive Chairman Anthony Hsieh, who is also the owner and leader of Team Bad Company, a world-class, record-holding competitive sportfishing fleet. Through Hsieh's deep connections with the Southern California sportfishing and business communities, WHOW has grown exponentially over five years and is now the largest nonprofit sportfishing tournament in the US.
About Freedom Alliance
Freedom Alliance is a charitable organization which provides help and support to wounded troops and military families. Freedom Alliance has awarded more than $20 million in college scholarships to the children of military heroes killed or disabled in military service and has spent millions more helping injured veterans and military families with outdoor recreational therapy trips, Heroes Vacations, care packages for deployed troops, mortgage-free homes, all-terrain wheelchairs and much more. To learn more, visit www.FreedomAlliance.org or Facebook.com/FreedomAlliance.
About Tyler Rich
Northern California-raised, Nashville-rooted Tyler Rich found his love of music gathered around a Christmas tree alongside family singing holiday classics and Creedence Clearwater Revival. Fast forward to graduating college with a degree in Economics, Tyler moved to LA to pursue a different game of numbers – music – exploring various genres with songwriting and bands before taking the leap as a solo artist. While introducing his amplified sound and infectious energy coast to coast, the 2018 CMT Listen Up and 2019 Pandora Artist has toured with Brett Young, Justin Moore, LANCO and Dustin Lynch, plus shared bills alongside Sam Hunt, Brett Eldredge, Cole Swindell, Dan + Shay. Enlisting Tyler as one of their "10 New Country Artists You Need to Know, Rolling Stone touts him as "the newest member of country music's radio-minded incoming class, with a homecoming king's swagger and a valedictorian's songwriting smarts." Amassing over 394.4M+ total global streams with his debut album TWO THOUSAND MILES (The Valory Music Co.), GOLD-certified hit "The Difference," plus latest releases "Better Than You're Used To" and The Cadillac Three's Jaren Johnston-produced "A Little Bit of You," his music embodies the feelings all people have in common – the need for acceptance, devotion and a place to call their own. His empathetic spirit extends to animals too with Rich Rescues, an initiative he began while on tour to raise awareness for pet adoption. Following his West Coast run of dates in 2021, Tyler extended THE TWO THOUSAND (MORE) MILES TOUR with shows across the country in addition to joining Chris Lane's FILL THEM BOOTS TOUR. For dates and more, visit TylerRich.com or follow on Instagram and TikTok.
VP, Public Relations
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SOURCE War Heroes on Water