In 2008, seven year old Mini Junior Derby Winner, Jack Nixon, saw an article in the paper about recovering wounded veterans and came up with an amazing idea:
What better therapy could there be for these American heroes than a serious fishing tournament, a Menemsha sunset, great food & the grateful fellowship of an entire island community?
Jack answered that question five years ago and along with his parents and their awesome team at the Inns launched the Beach Plum Inn American Heroes Saltwater Challenge.
WHO: 12-15 wounded warriors from Walter Reed National Medical Center
WHAT: We are honored to provide our recovering heroes with an all-expense paid trip to Martha's Vineyard for some world class fishing, great food, a little rest & the grateful fellowship of an entire island.
WHERE: Base Camp - Beach Plum Inn, Menemsha, Massachusetts
FOR MORE INFO: Please call Turner Delano at 413.687.2476 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The sun had just climbed above Squibnocket ridge when Lieut. Nathan Rimpf and Senior Airman Emanuel Thompson spotted their first catch of the day.
With a welcoming party fit for heroes, 10 recovering wounded soldiers arrived on the Vineyard Sunday afternoon for a weeklong stay in the fifth annual American Heroes Saltwater Challenge.
I have lived on Martha's Vineyard for 20 years and could not be more proud to call this Island home. Our sense of community, willingness to lend a hand, and ability to share this magical place with our visitors has brought me great joy over the years. This past week, I have been fortunate to be involved in the American Heroes Saltwater Challenge, being held at the Beach Plum Inn.
Sunday afternoon was the first time Colton Wiley of Keofauqua, Iowa had ever seen the ocean. Three months ago he was shot in the legs in Afghanistan, leaving the 19 year old wheelchair bound. Now, on a beautiful September evening on Menemsha Beach, he was watching his first sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. “It’s beautiful and completely eye opening,” he said later that night during dinner at the Beach Plum Inn.
I am frequently asked by people I meet who the leaders are in the Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby. I reply that I don't know.
Less than three months ago, Army 1st Lt. Nathan Rimpf was patrolling the dry hardscrabble hills and deep valleys of Afghanistan. Last week, thousands of miles and a world away from the realities of a war that many Americans only recognize as a brief news broadcast, he searched the clear blue waters surrounding Martha's Vineyard for bluefish and striped bass.
The Annual Event Organized and Held at The Beach Plum Inn Gives Back to OurWoundedWarriors
"There's my hero," said Martha's Vineyard Surfcasters Association president Janet Messineo as Emanuel Thompson walked into the Beach Plum Inn on Thursday morning. It had been a day since Mr. Thompson, an Air Force veteran from Virginia, had caught his derby-leading 34.72-pound striper on Capt. Buddy Vanderhoop's charter boat Tomahawk out of Menemsha, but he was still beaming.
For seven soldiers recovering from injuries the tranquil scene was far removed from the reality but not the memories of heat, dust, sudden explosions and hospital wards.
On Sunday, approximately 12 members of the military currently undergoing treatment at government hospitals in Maryland and Virginia will arrive on the Vineyard at the invitation of the Nixon family of Chilmark and the Derby to participate in the third American Heroes Saltwater Challenge.
Rahul Harpalani caught his first fish ever, a striped bass, on Tuesday. The 24-year-old active duty first lieutenant with the Army had a smile on his face like no one else on Menemsha charter captain Scott McDowell’s boat. Out fishing a mile south of Squibnocket, Mr. Harpalani was having the time of his life. "It is so serene out here," he said.
Many readers will remember that last year the Nixon Family of Chilmark and the Derby hosted a group of military veterans.
In mind and spirit the Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby and fishing the waters that surround the Vineyard are a long way from the confines of a military hospital and the mental and physical struggle to recover from grievous injuries.
On Monday, seven men and women, wounded in the service of their country and bound by their love of fishing, will arrive on Martha's Vineyard where they will be treated to five days of Island hospitality, inspired by gratitude for their military service and their sacrifice.
Kattrina (Tina) Sangillo of Windham, Me., held hard onto the fishing rod and cranked slowly with her right hand. She was reeling in the biggest fish she’d ever caught in her life. The striped bass pulled and tugged at the line, flashing silver in the water.