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Volunteers treat veterans to fishing day trip on Candlewood Lake

The Veterans’ Fishing Tournament returns

DANBURY, Conn. — A winning weather day Tuesday brought 25 veterans to Candlewood Lake in Danbury to head out on the water and cast a line.

It’s simply known as “The Veterans’ Fishing Tournament,” where Gaylord Hospital and the CT Bass Nation donate all the gear, and volunteers donate their time and their powerboats to treat veterans from all over the area to a day of fishing.

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Joe Kowalski, a retired Marine and well-known area sport fisherman, came up with an outreach program for vets about a decade ago.

To date, Kowalski has taken about 400 veterans on fishing trips with the help of fellow volunteers. Some veterans are disabled, some suffer from PTSD.

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“It kind of relaxes, makes all the issues from what we did in the service go away for a while,” said Kowalski.

Fishing from a sport boat, somewhere near the New Fairfield section of Candlewood Lake, was retired Afghan War combat veteran Jeremy Fry of Enfield.

“It’s just therapeutic, you can come out here, enjoy the weather, you can enjoy fishing and there’s nothing around you,” Fry said.

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Kowalski added, “The best part for me is taking a veteran out for the first time and watching them catch a five- or six-pound fish and they can’t believe it – to me that makes my day.”

The Sports Associations Fishing events are available to veterans from all over the area, to learn more click Gaylord.org/sports.

Jimmy Altman is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at jaltman@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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