Fishing tournament benefits Wounded Warrior Project - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Fishing tournament benefits Wounded Warrior Project

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Cletus Baber with his catch of the day (Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC) Cletus Baber with his catch of the day (Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)
(Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC) (Source: Erica Bivens/KPLC)
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CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) -

Chick-fil-A of Lake Charles hosted their first annual Big Trout Bonanza Saturday from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event took place at Calcasieu Point Landing. It was a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project.

But to the veterans, it was much more than that.

"4.74. That's an outstanding fish sir," called tournament director Ron Castille over the microphone, as he weighed in a trout.

Cletus Baber took home a check for $1,000, after reeling in the largest fish of the hour at Saturday's bonanza.

"That's a little vacation money I guess," said Baber.

As a wounded warrior, Baber says it's good to see an event that raises money for a charity that once helped him.

"On January 10, 2005 we were in an accident over there, an IED accident, that left us seriously messed up you know. We spent several months in the hospital," explained Barber, about his time overseas.

Baber says he and fellow veterans are still receiving care from the V.A. It's stories like that, that resonate with local organizers, like David Griffin.

"The charity we wanted to sponsor was the Wounded Warriors Project, so all of our proceeds are going to go to wounded warriors," said Griffin, Operator of the Lake Charles Chick-fil-A.

The event made it possible for five local wounded warriors to spend the day on the lake, competing in a friendly fishing tournament.

And the event wouldn't be possible without the help of volunteers, but those who donated their time today say they were happy to give back.

"It feels so good to be out here, it's hot, but it feels good to see all of the soldiers walking around too and to be able to serve them food and snow cones," said Kyleigh Ardoin, a volunteer with Snow Flurries.

"I think that this is the ultimate experience, to take a wounded warrior, somebody that sacrificed for our country. To take them, to give some of my time, to take them fishing, it was my honor to do it," said Mike Johnson.

It's thanks to Johnson, who served as a volunteer fishing guide for the day, that Baber was able to go saltwater fishing for the first time. And while the check was nice, Baber says it's the experience that proves memorable.

"Some of the vets like myself and others, we really need that therapy, like today. This is great," said Baber.

And hopefully, Saturday's event is the first of many.

"Next year, everything will be so much better. It looks like we'll get more wounded warriors to come in and fish our tournament next year," said Castille.

"It's a great cause, fishermen are happy, we're happy. It's just been a great day," added Griffin.

Officials are asking any local wounded warriors interested in participating next year to email them at: BigTroutBonanza@gmail.com.

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