Wounded Warriors Visit Anclote Key
Giving Back – Pasco Style
By Ed Caum, Tourism Manager, Pasco County
New Port Richey, FL– Pasco County is a great destination to get outdoors and find an adventure in the sun. Visitors can find a wide variety of activities to fill their days, whether it’s at a local watering hole, favorite restaurant, an island offshore or zip lining through the trees. Pasco offers friendly boat captains, tour operators and knowledgeable staff.
Local businessmen and women who operate tourist destinations, provide services not only to visitors, but local customers as well. These tourism providers are the ones serving half a million tourists that visit Pasco on any given day throughout the year. Often times, it is through the local customer enjoyment of these destinations that we get more people from out of town coming to check them out.
One aspect that often gets forgotten is the spirit of community these folks have and what they give back to the community where they live and work. A great example of this happened late in June when a veterans group paid a visit to Anclote Key. What could a group of wounded warriors possibly get out of a boat ride to a barrier island? The answer is complex.
Veterans like the company of other veterans who have experienced similar situations, some not so fun and very dangerous. Others experiences are the hijinks’ and shenanigans that go on between family members. The term brothers and sisters in arms hold true, in that veterans form tight bonds with their battle buddies and the protective group becomes a tight knit family structure. I know this because I am a veteran myself.
The group of veterans visited from a group home where they are working to overcome some of the trauma they experienced overseas and are now trying to reintegrate their lives into “Civilian” life. The after effects of combat can be any combination of things from Post-Traumatic Stress, Disorder (PTSD), drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness or anxiety. My Warrior Place sponsored the trip to the island as a way of connecting the wounded warriors with a “normal” activity. The purpose is to get them outdoors interacting with each other and to just relax.
What made this unique is the two tour providers set aside time to give back and offer their “Tourist Amenity” for free. Capt. Bob Hubbard of Island Paradise Charters and Capt. Dale Hayberg another area boat captain and master diver, donated their time and boat costs to provide this service to the veterans of My Warrior Place.
“It’s important to me to give back to the community,” explained Capt. Hubbard. “Not everyone gets to see how beautiful our Gulf Coast is. This allows me to show them how proud I am of them and thank them for their service to our County.”
When not shuttling visitors back and forth to Anclote Key, Capt. Hubbard’s business offers sunset cruises, weddings, beach Bash BBQs and he runs Adrenaline Fishing a near shore and offshore fishing guide service.
“My office is the boat and the beach,” Capt. Hubbard said. “That’s something I just want to share with others.”
In a surprise visit that day, a whine way above the island slowly grew louder and a V-Winged light-sport aircraft with pontoons appeared and landed just offshore. As the little plane taxied up to the white sandy beach it drew the interest of the entire Island. The pilot jumped out and waded ashore and introduced himself. “I’m Charlie Floyd, a Marine, and I’m here to take you flying.”
This was the highlight of the day as each of the wounded warriors got to sit back seat on the DuckWing Triking plane, Sea & Sky Cygnet, for a trip above the island unveiling the deep crystal blue of the Gulf waters surrounding Anclote Key. Capt. Floyd echoes the feelings of the other captains, “I served and I want to continue to serve through supporting veterans’ programs that make a difference in the lives of our wounded warriors.”
So when you think of Pasco County, the tourists, our attractions and outdoor fun, think of the local businesses that make up the tourism industry and are good community partners year-round using their “Tourist amenity” to give back to our local folks.
Check out VisitPasco.net and plan your next adventure in Pasco and invite your friends and family to visit where… “Its’ Only Natural.”
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