A few of years ago I went on a DICE Run for a place called L.E.E.K. Hunting & Mountain Preserve. The DICE Runs are motorcycle rides put together for “good causes.” During the rides, there are stops where you roll dice, purchase raffle tickets, buy chances (you get the idea.) At the end of the ride everybody turns in their little papers, which were used to keep track of the dice rolls. One of the ride organizers sits there and figures out who rolled the highest throughout the day and the High Roller wins half the money that’s been collected. (High Roller always give their half back to the organization that we’re riding for)… nice, right? They’re always a lot of fun, and nice amounts of money are donated to the cause that the ride was set up for! I’m sure most of you have even participated in such events. I’m trying to paint a picture here… bear with me. Oh, yeah… Chinese auctions are part of the fund raising events, also…
After that ride for L.E.E.K., I found myself thinking about that place. I thought “that really is a wonderful idea, that L.E.E.K. place…” The long and short of this place is this… it’s two Brothers, US Military Brothers who, in memory of their DAD, came up with a hunting and fishing get-away-and-have-fun place for severely injured Soldiers! I cried the first time I was there. I cry every time I think about it. I can’t help it – I’m a weenie like that!
The wounded Soldiers who get to enjoy this little adventure are (a lot of them) coming right out of the US Military Hospitals. Most of them are young. They’re missing body parts. Sometimes both legs are gone, sometimes half of a leg. They’re blind in one eye because of an injury. Some are missing half of an arm. Some have all of their limbs, but the limbs don’t work anymore because of a brain injury. Brain injuries are caused by the Soldiers suffering strokes due to severe blood loss. Other Soldiers suffer brain injury caused by concussions they’ve suffered from bombs used in the wars today. Some “look” okay, but they’re having a hard time of it, mentally/emotionally. The L.E.E.K. gang welcome one and all… well, all that they can – it’s a small operation. Oh, I forgot to tell you, the name of the guys who started this whole thing, are Edward and Lewis Fisher. Their wives are also part of the team, as well as the volunteers. The “L” is for Lewis, one “E” is for Edward Fisher, the other “E” is for Elaine, who is married to Lewis and the “K” is for Kate Fisher, who is Ed’s wife.
Anyway, I found myself always thinking about this place. Thinking about how much damn fun those Soldiers were having. I kept thinking about their smiles and the way they all razzed one another. The volunteers who take the Soldiers out on the actual hunts and/or fishing for the day drag all kinds of gear out to the hunting blinds and tree stands (if the Soldiers can use a tree stand.) They take whatever the Soldiers need to the bank of a lake, or to the edge of a river. Volunteers are taking wheel chairs, crutches, braces, etc. The hunting/fishing guides carry Soldiers, when they have to! Some Soldiers can ride on 4-Wheelers. They do whatever the hell they need to do to get them to their hunting and/or fishing spots! They make this a fun time, a healing time, and a memorable time. Thankfully, L.E.E.K. recently was able to purchase (because of donations) these two really cool track chairs… they go over all kinds of terrain. That saves the backs of the volunteers who carry the Soldiers and allows the Soldiers to be more independent! Nice, right???!!!
I also found myself going to their website, reading more about it. What didn’t make any sense is why I would be drawn to something that had to do with hunting! I am not a fan of hunting (I let spiders out of my house, unless its winter time, then they can stay) … nor, am I an advocate of these wars! SO, what the hell? Why can’t I shake thinking about it? THEN, it hit me!!! It doesn’t matter what my political views are…. And it’s also not about whether I’m a fan of hunting.
I FINALLY FIGURED IT OUT!!! Why I kept feeling a pull. It was seeing what I had seen. It was the life altering injuries of these young Men. It was me feeling guilty for NOT doing something to pay back! What the hell took me so long to finally figure it out (I thought???!!!) I OWE THESE SOLDIERS MY SUPPORT! They deserve a week of fun, a week of “feeling normal again!” THANK GOD it only took me like a year to figure this out! I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!
I started out small… I started out by going back to the L.E.E.K. website to see what they needed. There’s a wish list on the site. Hunting blinds were on their list. Okay… I saved up my money… and ordered them a hunting blind. I drove over to drop it off to Lewis Fisher… he was very, very appreciative. I thought “Oh, good, I did something.” Well, that must not have been enough because I was still always thinking about that place. Okay – back to the L.E.E.K. website (after a couple of months of those Soldiers still popping up in my head)… Oh, look… they have people who volunteer to make meals for everybody, when the Soldiers come out. I can cook – I just don’t cook very often.
Here comes the Lasagna part of my title… see, how I’ve made you guys read all of this to get to the Lasagna part???!!! Anyway, I make a kick ass Lasagna. That was the meal that I made. I had to take a day off of work – that’s how much time was needed for the amount that I made. I’m (now) famous for my Lasagna! I’m also getting more involved with this wonderful place. I’ve brought my Son over to volunteer. The Dice runs continue… Ed Fisher has asked if I would join the “Open House Committee”… I feel very humbled and honored that the Fisher Family thinks that much of me. Ed also thinks that I would be good at fund raising. Thought that it would be a good thing for me to do – you know, bring me out of my shell. Give me practice in speaking out, meeting people, mingling… since I’m such a shy and quite person. (KIDDING!)
Thank GOD for L.E.E.K. Hunting & Mountain Preserve. They have made me a better person. I’ve got a long way to go… but, I’m pointed in the right direction thanks to them!
It’s simple really, RESPECT FOR OUR HEROES!
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
being around the Soldiers who get to come out and spend time at L.E.E.K. Words don't have to be spoken... I see their smiles.
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
I wouldn't make any changes to the organization. I wish that I could do more, personally... that's all I would change. I know that the organization would GREATLY benefit from having more room for more Soldiers and their Families. It would be nice if they were able to raise enough money for a bigger facility. The Soldiers would really benefit if there was more "housing" space and bathroom facilities that are designed for people who are wheel chair bound, etc.
Would you volunteer for this group again?
For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?
Did the organization use your time wisely?
Would you recommend this group to a friend?
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
What one change could this group make that would improve your volunteer experience?
These guys couldn't improve my volunteer experience any more than what they already do... Honestly - they're just really, really nice people! So appreciative of everything that anyone does, etc.! But, if I should answer this question, thinking that my answer would benefit the group... I would say that they should do more fund raisers throughout the year... Like, maybe a carnival at the property... maybe we could hire the "Harlem Globe Trotters" for a basketball game fundraiser... I had mentioned to Ed maybe doing a "Black Tie Dinner" - I know that what these guys do, takes lots of money... and, they could do so much more if we could raise more money! I'm volunteering!!! Sign me up!!!!
Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)
I'm a better person for meeting the L.E.E.K. crew.
How did this volunteer experience make you feel?
Makes me feel like I want to do more! Makes me happy to see other people happy!