Wangling Walleye Warriors Raises Thousands of Dollars for Veterans Charity
PORT CLINTON — Although weather may keep them from sailing Friday, dozens of veteran anglers will nonetheless continue to press forward with tens of thousands of contributions to rescue efforts that impact their peers.
Local nonprofit Warriors Wangling Walleye is hosting its fourth annual Veterans Walleye Tournament and Banquet on Friday, with proceeds going to Save A Warrior, a program supporting active duty military, returning veterans and veterans. first responders with psychological trauma.
Although with winds expected to exceed 20 mph and even higher gusts, this year’s tournament attendees likely won’t be able to make it to Lake Erie, but the banquet and all other activities are still going ahead as planned, according to John Tucholski, organizer and co-founder of Warriors Wangling Walleye.
The captain said let’s talk, and the cat started it all
Tucholski, along with Tim Larcey and Bill Reed, of VFW Post 2480 in Port Clinton, originally founded Warriors Wangling Walleye five years ago to raise money for various charities and other nonprofits helping fellow veterans .
Tucholski, who has been a fishing captain on Lake Erie for decades, said he reached out to Larcey after hearing about his idea to start a tournament for veterans.
“I called (Larcey) and said, ‘Hey, I’m a charter captain and I’m a vet, I love what you guys do, let’s talk about it. We went to VFW, had a few beers and that’s how it all started,” Tucholski said.
They then held their first Warriors Wangling Walleye tournament in 2017 and raised around $8,000 to $9,000 that year.
Only 30% of the entry fee, which is $400 per team, goes toward tournament prize money. the remaining 70% is entirely donated to veteran-related charities.
Tucholski said every year there were more teams coming in as he continued to grow from that strong start, and most recently he raised nearly $12,000 in 2019.
Last year, the tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making Friday’s Warriors Wangling Walleye event its fourth annual.
To date, 31 teams have registered to participate, which is a new high for the Warriors Wangling Walleye, despite the unfortunate weather conditions and remaining COVID-19 restrictions limiting the number of people they can have at the banquet.
Without the pandemic, Tucholski said the event could have been even bigger. They also have a growing list of sponsors, including many companies that contribute to the raffle and door prizes, as well as cash.
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Always looking for veteran charities that need help
In recent years, proceeds have enabled Warriors Wangling Walleye to make significant donations to local efforts at Wreaths Across America, the Ohio Veterans Home at Sandusky and others.
“Every year we try to find another 501(c)3 veterans organization that we think is doing something really good, really worthy, and that’s who we donate to,” said Tucholsky.
This year’s cause, Save A Warrior, holds special significance for Tucholski as it addresses an issue close to his heart, as he lost two friends he served with to suicide.
“It definitely touches me,” he said.
Save A Warrior offers a “War Detox” program
Save A Warrior, headquartered in Columbus, offers what it describes as a “War Detox” program, which connects veterans, as well as active duty military and first responders, to “a community of effective support and techniques for overcoming symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress and suicidal ideation,” according to their website.
The program uses techniques such as meditation, mindfulness, storytelling and listening, goal setting, team building and resilience exercises.
The Warriors’ Wangling Walleye banquet is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Friday at the Crow’s Nest Back Pavilion, 2170 N. Buck Road, Lakeside Marblehead, rain or shine.