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‘Best therapy sessions on the planet’ | Connecticut's disabled veterans can cast lines again

A popular fishing tournament helping Connecticut's servicemen and women returned to Candlewood Lake.

DANBURY, Conn. — It was a good day to be out on Candlewood Lake on Tuesday as a fishing tournament meant to support Connecticut’s servicemen and women returned after a year-long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Disabled Veterans Fishing Tournament – which is put on by the Gaylord Hospital’s Sports Association, the Connecticut Bass Nation and the Mayor Steven Roy Andrews Fishing Outreach Program – made its triumphant return, giving disabled veterans a day out in the water for fishing and comradery.

“It’s a great thing to get the vets out here to catch some fish and just be out on the water,” Joe Kowalski, 61, told FOX61 News.

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Kowalski, a Marine veteran and nationally known sports fisherman, runs the fishing outreach program that honors his late friend and decorated Air Force veteran Maj. Steven Roy Andrews. The program provides fishing gear and tackle to veterans who sign up for the tournament.

Earla Lanier, a Navy veteran from West Haven, has been involved in the fishing tournaments for the past few years.

"It's relaxing," said Lanier. "I suffer from PTSD trauma, so this takes me away."

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After casting a line from a motorboat by the banks of Candlewood Lake, Stephen Carter, a Marine veteran who served in Vietnam, was enjoying his first time with the fishing program.

"You know they are going out of their way for us, and those little things, they mean something, it’s a memory,” Carter said of the volunteer team.

Kowalski added: "This is one of the best therapy sessions on the planet."

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To learn more about the Disabled Veterans Fishing Tournament click here.

To learn more about Gaylord Hospital's Sports Association click here.

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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