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Reel American Heroes Foundation

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Military & Veterans Organizations, Veterans

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, disables 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

259 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2

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

1 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!

1 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
1

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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1 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.

1 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

1

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

1 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.

1

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.

1 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.

1 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!

1

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.

1

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!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am currently an active duty Marine stationed in Quantico, Virginia. Yesterday I had the opportunity to go on a Team Reel American Hero Foundation (RAHF) fishing trip with Brent and loved every minute of it. It may have not been the greatest day of fishing (for our boat), but we had a great time. Any day on the water fishing is better than a day on the couch. Before we venture out onto the water Brent gave me a Lew’s rod and reel with a tackle box full of fishing goodness. I was excited to simply go fishing, so I was absolutely speechless when I received the fishing gear.

I would like to take moment to thank RAHF, all of the sponsors that make the fishing trips happen, and to Brent for taking time out of his busy schedule to take me fishing. The volunteers and sponsors involved in the Reel American Heros Foundation are truly special. Thank you for everything you do!!!

Semper Fidelis,
Jason

1 Jack49

Volunteer

Rating: 5

RAHF is an amazing organization that I am proud to be a part of. Giving back to those who have sacrificed so much is something we are proud to do. To work with an organization that gives back over 90% of everything they take is rare and we are lucky to have found them.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great volunteer organization that I am proud to be associated with and support. They help our wounded Heroes through outdoor recreational therapy.

1 Christian B.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Incredible ppl above reproach , genuine local help also , gifts giveaways an pro visits , they will make you feel loved that's for sure

1 Cory8

Client Served

Rating: 5

This organization is LIFE CHANGING and the people in charge are simply incredible. I was at a dark place in my life and was introduced to fishing and Reel American Heros Foundation and have never looked back. This program does magnificent work helping veterans back onto their feet and put them on the water. They don't just stop there, they provide the skills and equipment you will need to continue to fish. The old saying goes "Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime." RAHF not only fills your belly and teaches you skills necessary to fishing but on top of that fills your soul with a lifetime of friendships and support. You guys are truly amazing!!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Great people- Great cause. Looking forward to this summer in Stafford Va.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

RAHF is a great organization and with great people involved. They are willing to go above and beyond to give back and help our veterans. The experiences that I have had and the friendships I have made through this organization are life changing and everlasting. These guys are truly changing lives. The dedication and support of this organization to our country's veterans is beyond incredible.

2 BCJensen

Volunteer

Rating: 5

RAHF has far surpassed my expectations for helping and honoring our service members. I am a veteran myself. It makes me very proud to be associated to this foundation in a roll that provides recreational therapy to our men and woman that have served our great nation.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Reel American Heroes Foundation is the best organization that supports our troops and veterans. They provide an outlet for wounded soldiers to get back into the outdoors. My husband has been a volunteer with this organization for three years, and he will continue to support this organization. Honored to be a part of what they do.