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Reel American Heroes Foundation

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Nonprofit Overview

Mission: The Reel American Heroes Foundation is a 100% volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation that works with military hospitals and military bases to provide much needed recreational therapy for our nation's wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Disabled Veterans and Combat Veterans by getting them out on the water to fish.

Results: Over 800 wounded heroes have participated in our programs and benefitted from the recreational therapy that we provide.

Target demographics: wounded and combat Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Disabled Veterans

Direct beneficiaries per year: 800 wounded heroes.via team bass fishing events

Geographic areas served: Virginia

Programs: Team bass fishing events.

Community Stories

244 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Micah C.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is the Best Military and wounded hero organization I’ve been lucky to now call a family. The whole organization is here to help give Veterans an amazing experience in and off the water. Like a lot of military members we love our outdoors and RAHF helps us get to experience that around people who share our love and experience with our backgrounds. I will be apart of this group for years to come... Thank you RAHF for all that you do for our Veterans

Previous Stories

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have ben able to be apart and be supported through this amazing organization for the past 2 years now and have found that their ability to help the veterans through the amazing sport of fishing weather it be getting wounded vets out on the water with one of their many volunteer boaters, providing the fishing equipment with the wonderful venders and small business owners who make their lures by hand, or to be there as a support to the families and veterans if they need any kind of help. The Reel American Heros Foundation has an amazing staff and volunteers backing our veterans and all for just the fact that they want to help out in anyway possible. I love being apart of this family. Thank you all for everything you do.

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Randy Q.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering my time with the RAHF for the last eight years. I do not know who enjoy's it the most, the warrior or me. I have had the most interesting people in my boat and to see their smiles when we are lucky enough to do good is as good as winning a major tournament. I feel blessed to be able to be a part of this organization and to be able to give something back to those that have given so much. That is why I make monthly donations and look forward to every year's event.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have fished all but one of the Reel American Heroes tournaments. I applaud the tireless efforts put forth by all of the volunteers that put on this special day. I fish several different trails and I always arrange my schedule to include Reel Americans Heroes.

From the time you are introduced to your draw partner until the end of the tournament there is a feeling that is unexplained when you see the enjoyment on the faces of the warriors that have seen so much devastation. I have not fished one yet that the warrior did not express their heartfelt gratitude.

I have fished several Wounded Warriors events as well, but the professionalism, organization, and presence of so many top Pro Anglers give a thumbs up to Reel American Heroes and Ron DeFreitas.

I hope that we can continue to bring a profession event each year in this area and expand to other areas of the U.S. because there are warriors in need across this nation.

Keep up the good work and do not fail to call upon me for any help. Randy Quesenberry

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Reel American Heroes Foundation is one of the best and most active groups to work with that helps our active duty Military and Veterans get out on the water for recreational therapy! A great volunteer base and enthusiastic people throughout every level of the organization! Money in this organization is managed extremely well and stretched to provide every participant the best possible experience! Great group to be a part of!

Chris146

Board Member

Rating: 5

Great organization to be involved with. Nothing is more humbling than getting to work with some of our nationals heroes who sacrificed so much!

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great foundation that 100% of the money goes back to the military. Proud to be involved in such a great foundation and great people who run it. Look forward each year to the tournaments and other activities held.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This would be my fourth year fishing the real American Heroes tournament. I got to say this is it has to be one of the best put together veterans event that I've ever been a part of. I enjoy being a boater and listening to the stories of the vets and our heroes on the water.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Reel American Heros Foundation is a first class organization that gives back to out wounded vets who gave so much for our freedom. Taking a vet fishing gets them away from there everyday worries. I'm a volunteer boated and already ready for the next event.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is a great organization that extends a helping hand to our miitary and veterans. RAHF 8 is the first tournament that I will be directly involved as a volunteer. They bring much needed recreation and hope to the people they serve.

Eric85

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Class act! Giving back! Proud to be associated with this Great Nonprofit ! Salute to all service men and women!!

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great event for our service men and women ! Well run and enjoyed by all !!

Client Served

Rating: 5

First of all, Reel American Heroes Foundation is the real deal. The money, donations, sponsor prizes, etc. goes back to the veterans who participate with RAHF. I am an Army veteran who has been wounded several times who suffers from PTSD, TBI, and many other physical ailments as a 100% Permanent and Total Disabled Veteran through VA. RAHF is family and you feel that as soon as you register for the tournament. I fished the annual RAHF tournament as a wounded warrior several years ago and I have never felt more respected, honored, and humbled as I did that day. I saw and spoke with veterans who truly needed this event as did I. From there on RAHF has had my support. I have become a boater for the event as well as a Team RAHF member who regularly takes my fellow vets out. Bass fishing was a big part of my recovery as it is today. It has given me the mission , the excitement for things again, focus, an adrenaline rush (as I used to jump out of planes for a living while in the military), peace, a sactuary, and many more things....fishing has helped to save my life quite honestly. RAHF has given me a purpose again and has been a big part in saving me. Truly first class operation. I was encouraged by my doctors to join another organization before I became involved with RAHF. I was disgusted by how things were done. Took my wife to one other event and have never attended another event with them nor will I ever do so. A volunteer who is a mutual friend of founder, Ron Defrietas, and myself asked me to my first event and truthfully I did not want to attend. I was done with veteran non-profits. This mutual friend kept insisting so I registered and am so glad I did attend. They have helped me so much and I love to share this with others. Fishing is some of the best therapy a veteran can receive. It is good for the mind, body, and soul. I am so proud to be a part of this family. Ron is a good man who truly cares for veterans. The board members also believe in the mission. I encourage all to be involved with RAHF. The veterans who come out to our events gets treated like kings. They receive about $450 of fishing tackle to include a Lews American Hero rod/reel combo, tackle box full of great baits, and much more like Hoo Rags. And the comraderie ...... priceless. I will not associate my name with any other veteran non-profit. Attend an event, donate money, donate time.....it is an amazing event. Good times that touches all involved.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

One of the best organizations in the country that give back to our vets. They are the real deal and make a difference in many lives!

Gary Remensnyder
C.E.O. Lew’s Holdings Corporation

Jody C.1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Such an amazing organization to help out our Veterans. My dad was in the Vietnam War and there was nothing like this back then....Great Job Ron!

Dawn74

Donor

Rating: 5

This is an amazing program that is run by some pretty amazing people. My husband has met some great fellow warriors through RAHF. He suffers with TBI and PTSD. This is the best therapy for him. Thank you.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My Husband is a wounded warrior. He not only has been to the Reel American Heroes Fishing tournament, but THE FOUNDER, Ronald DeFreitas, personally came and picked my husband up for a day on the lake. I could go on and on and tell you how hard it is to get my soldier, my hero, my husband, out of the house, but I will leave it at this... He has SEVERE PTSD and suffers from A TBI. It is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to get him to go in public because he feels like he doesn't fit in or belong.. RAHF changed his outlook on public events!! It was the 1st time I got him out in over a year. and now he checks daily for new and upcoming events!! Thank you RAHF!! you are truly a blessing to these men and women. And we as care givers APPRECIATE the compassion you have for our Heroes!!!!

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Richard M.3

Donor

Rating: 5

Ron DeFreitas and the Reel American Heroes Foundation is one of the best organizations that I know of. This organization goes out of their way to insure veterans and wounded warriors get back on the water. Sometimes all we need is a little fishing to help us come to a since of peacefulness with ourselves and with nature. This organization does just that and more. Words can not express how great is is to know that this organization exists.

Matt M.2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Wonderful orginazation for such a great cause. First class folks helping first class folks. Proud to be associated with them.

Matt Mosher
St. Louis Missouri

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Reel American Heroes Foundation is one of the top Military non profits in the country for supplying Recreational Therapy to our wonderful men and women threw fellowship on the water .I have been involved with this group for 7 years now. I plan to help and participate as long as possible.
What makes Team RAHF differ from others is it's volunteer base and all the great vendors who make the events possible. But once the events are over Team RAHF is still works with getting as many out on the water for some of that good old company and fellowship that can only be found outdoors.
I believe so much in this foundation I became good friends right of the batwith it's founder Ronald Defratis.
With Ronald, volunteers,and our many wonderful vendors Team RAHF will be there when needed. FISH ON

Dwayne J.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

RAHF is truly an amazing organization. I volunteered in 2017 and have made it my goal to volunteer to help support the cause each year going forward. They do so much for the men and women who have sacrificed so much for us.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is one of the greatest groups for giving us veterans something awesome to look forward too. When I attended my first fishing trip, I felt like I was family and they could not do enough to make sure I had a good time.

John Laurenza J.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a Proud Supporter of this great organization since the very beginning. It has been one of the highest honors to be a team member and see in person the smiles we can put on these men and women's faces. RAHF 8 will be my 3rd tournament in a row that I travel to volunteer at. All of the folks involved the DeFreitas family and the Gardner family have made me feel like part of the family. I have crafted baits for this event each year and now actually make volunteering for this event 1 of my annual vacations. I have never seen a more sincere organization.

Matthew R.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This Foundation is TRULY about the Heroes who have served our country. I have had the pleasure of donating my time to take a Hero out fishing last year and will continue to do so in the future. A fantastic organization and people running it. Well done!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I originally wrote this story for my company newsletter but the said it was to long and they only needed 300 words. I couldn't sum this experience up in 300 words and I felt a bit disappointed but my coworker suggested that I post it on the RAHF site and I couldn't agree more!

Recently the 7th Annual Reel American Heroes bass fishing tournament was held at Hope Springs Marina in Stafford, Virginia. The Reel American Heroes Foundation is a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit, All Volunteer Organization, founded in 2010 for the purpose of thanking our Wounded and Disabled Veterans from all service branches for the sacrifices they have made protecting our country, freedoms, and way of life. I was informed by a mutual friend and in turn, I extended an invitation to a couple of Skookum colleagues, Jay Aulabaugh and Cody Mattes. They are my in-company bass fishing rivals, but that's another story for later.
The day began with a 1:30 AM wake up call, a 2:30 am departure followed by a two-hour drive North on I-95 to the marina. I arrived early which was great because I got an excellent parking slot and it provided me a glimpse of the behind the scenes operations of which I found to be impressive. The volunteers were there in full force tents were erected, breakfast was being prepared, continuous registrations and the launching of their fellow volunteer's boats and parking their vehicles in the dead of darkness. The boat captains were all volunteers that ranged from the local area fisherman, BASS Master celebrities and anglers from out of state, some came as far away as Maine, New York, Delaware, Louisiana, and Florida to name a few.
I sat in my truck and observed all of this going on around me and started to feel something that I haven't felt in a while but I just couldn't put my finger on it. So I began to prep my gear as I awaited the crack of dawn which I found to be extremely beautiful this particular morning when it arrived. When daylight finally broke it brought along my tentative nemesis with it, at least until September arrives, then I'll set the record straight. Yes, it was Cody and Jay, they showed up with their jokes and torments from past accomplishments, oh yeah and their gear too! Without getting into too many details the story behind our rivalry revolves around a bass tournament held at Cheatham Naval Annex earlier this year in Yorktown, Virginia. I invited them along with other anglers in the company but they were the only ones to take an interest. So, when the tournament ensued Cody made it a point to upset me on the waters that I fish regularly and he and Jay somewhat accomplished their goal and I'll leave it at that for now! They took the first place and big fish award and I, notice I said "I" as in by myself, and took second place award. The last tournament was in a pond, but this tournament was held on the mighty Potomac River, which is an extremely large body of water that can overwhelm your senses.
Eating breakfast was the next order of business. A breakfast burrito made your own way was the main course. The ingredients were scrambled eggs, deep fried bacon, pork sausage and a flour tortilla. Yes, I said deep fried bacon! I stood there and watched as the chef peeled bacon strip after bacon strip from a large package and dropped each piece ever so gracefully into a pot full of hot bubbling vegetable oil. The end result was perfectly crisped deep fried bacon without much fat. Shortly after breakfast, the opening ceremony began with an ever so sharp Marine color guard and the singing of the national anthem by a young lady that was talented enough to sing acapella and delivered perfectly with a dash of goose bumps up the spine of anyone listening. Then the chaplain performed an invocation and respect was rendered to a fallen comrade. One last overview of the tournament rules and we were turned loose on the Potomac, we had six hours to catch five largemouth bass. The most weight wins the tournament.
The captain of my boat decided to run up the river for 30 minutes to visit a honey hole that we picked apart a week ago, but the fish had other plans. Only two hungry largemouth bass wanted to play with us, well with the captain at least. I caught two fish but they were the wrong type of fish. I caught a reasonable sized ringed perch and a large blue catfish. Both fish bit a lure designed for bass, I guess they wanted it more than the bass. The next few hours consisted of a frantic search for big bass in the heat of a very, very, hot day. Everything was fine until a co-angler encountered engine trouble that caused his engine to only idle. The captain and I rendered assistance by escorting them back to dock at a slow, slow idle. We had two hours left to fish, but we felt that it was more important to ensure that the other guys returned to the dock safely. It took every second of those two hours to return but we did it and no one was stranded on the water.
Upon returning we were greeted by none other than Cody himself, grinning like a chest cat talking mounds of trash, trying to get me worked up. He pulled my leg for a minute but he bombed out with zero bass to his credit. Their only fish tale was that they caught the notorious snake head fish, which is a non-native fish to American waterways. No one knows how it got here, but many anglers wish they never arrived due to the negative impact that it is having on the river ecosystem. After trading stories it was now time for lunch and what a lunch it was indeed. Corn on the cob, slaw, pulled BBQ smoked pork butts, macaroni and cheese and pork and beans. The food was excellent and reflective of the individuals that was providing service to us. The meet and greets continued as did that nagging feeling of familiarity.
Finally, after lunch Shaw Grigsby hosted the award ceremony and announced the top five teams that placed. Plaques and prizes were given out to the teams for their hard work and efforts. The event concluded with the raffle drawings, which I do believe Jay won a fishing jersey that will have his last name imprinted on the back as an additional gesture of gratitude by the RAHF organization.
In closing, starting with the beautiful early morning sunrise that gave way to the earnest hard working volunteers dropping large powerful machinery into the peaceful waters of the great Potomac River, and the preparation of a good old fashioned country breakfast on an open flame pit filling the air with wonderful smells that would make a grown man cry, to the culmination of a tough but yet first-rate bass tournament, I found this whole experience to be absolutely amazing and one of the best means of therapy! The admirable heart felt service that the volunteers rendered will forever be in the forefront of my mind. I understand the event was to show appreciation for veterans and without a doubt the goal was met ten times over. I am absolutely honored and humbled by the genuine unconditional love and selfless dedication that poured out of the hearts of the people involved with this organization. My hat is off to the RAHF and more so to the people who selflessly volunteered to drive it to a total success.
I finally remembered what that nagging feeling was that troubled me in a good way. That feeling is what veterans know as Esprit de corps which means the common spirit existing in the members of a group and inspiring enthusiasm, devotion, and strong regard for the honor of the group. On this day, past and present members of all branches of the United States military joined forces with local citizens and forged a rock solid bond as one, resulting in a hell of a good time on the Potomac River.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I attended the Reel American Hero's Fishing tournament in July 2017 for my second year in a row. Let me tell you these people go above and beyond to ensure we are taken care of. From the minute you arrive there is a sense of welcome, first by receiving welcomes from all the volunteers working the parking lot. After you park you are greeted by other volunteers that pile you down with food and a bunch free gear to ensure you are ready to go out and catch fish. After eating and receiving all the essential gear you get to meet your boating partner who (for both years that I have attended) is an outstanding person, doing everything in their power to ensure we are having a good time and attempting to put us on fish. After the fishing they feed you again, and lastly do some raffles and give away amazing prizes to the winning teams. This year I was lucky enough to win first prize and I walked away with a fully outfitted boat (I could not believe I won a boat:) ). It is unbelievable to imagine how kind and generous all the supporters of this foundation are. If I could give more than 5 stars I would, and I recommend it to all my veteran friends as a chance to get out and decompress on the water. Thank you to everyone who supports this event!