Keynote Speaker: Decorated Army Veteran, John Wayne Walding
Birmingham, Ala.—September 1—Ticket sales have begun for On River Time’s Fish On, the nonprofit’s annual live and silent auction with dinner and drinks. The event is September 27th from 6-10p.m. at the Florentine in Birmingham; single tickets and tables are available at www.onrivertime.org. No one evening is more important to On River Time’s programming, which hosts an annual fly fishing camp as its anchor activity for inspiring abused and neglected children.
In 2012, Homewood local Steve Davis hatched a plan in Idaho to help kids in Alabama. He wanted to give those who were coping with the scars of childhood abuse and neglect a special kind of peace, one that he had only felt fly fishing in big sky country. Other studies on PTSD veterans have indicated that fly fishing can be part of a larger healing process, and what better way for him to jumpstart a new set of memories and experiences for these kids? So, Davis and some friends paid all expenses for 3 kids and their guardians to have the consummate fly fishing experience at his favorite lodge, The Lodge at Palisades Creek. The Lodge’s setup and willingness to allow On River Time host camp regularly in early June prompted Davis to form a 501(c)(3), create a board, and hire an executive director.
Six Junes later the registered nonprofit has taken 83 abused and neglected children from group homes to a precisely programmed fly fishing camp that they’ll never forget. “We want to give them a turning point in their personal narratives, to implant a huge positive memory,” said Director Jeana Durst. “Every year, we have honed our activities and expanded year round mentoring and outreach.”
A turning point in On River Time’s narrative was the boost in fundraising the Fish On auction represented, beginning in 2014. “More than any one night, this affects the scope of our activities for the rest of the year,” she said. “Attendees who raise their bid card are putting a kid in a plane seat for the first time, putting them in a boat with a lifelong guide, and letting them see beauty that stuns them speechless.”
Durst credits the fundraiser with allowing the funds to add a partner home; expand the camp to include national park exploration; develop a peer mentor program in which previous campers return their senior year as role models; donate scholarships to attendees; and, most dramatically, to build a permanent camp cabin home on the grounds of the Lodge.
But there is more on the horizon if the event continues to exceed expectations:
Durst said that they select a speaker for Fish On each year who will give the audience a boost, something to take home with them along with the unique items and good feeling of having changed lives.
This year’s speaker is John Wayne Walding. John Served in the Army and Special Forces for 12 years. During a battle in Iraq in 2008, he lost his leg to a sniper and continued fighting for hours. He went on to become the first amputee graduate of Special Forces Sniper School and served as a Green Beret Sniper Instructor. He speaks nationally about maintaining focus in the face of adversity (johnwaynewalding.com).
Fish On always delivers a wide range of travel experiences, local entertainment and leisure packages, artisan crafts, and jewelry. This year’s evening will balance dinner with a silent auction prior and a live auction after. Here are just a few items for bid:
- A week in Tuscany
- Alabama vs. LSU football tickets
- Diamond jewelry from Coman Baum
- Guided fishing at The Lodge at Palisades Creek
- Custom clothing from Hong Kong Tailors
- Personal training sessions at Pure Fitness
- Signed Alabama and Auburn footballs from Nick Saban and Gus Malzahn
- Kendra Scott jewelry
- A tour of Good People Brewery
- Birmingham Barons tickets
- A catered low country boil for 8 from A Social Affair
- A kayak from Deep South Outfitters
As always, the full dinner with complimentary wine will match the grandeur of the 20s architecture of The Florentine building. Individual tickets for Fish On are $100, and 10 person tables are $1,000. Please contact Jeana Durst at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss other sponsor options for yourself or your company.
About On River Time
On River Time exists to change the lives of children who have survived abuse and neglect. A registered 501 (C)(3) organization, it uses fly fishing and mentorship to provide middle and high school aged children with hope and the inspiration to dream big. While the program is grounded in an unforgettable fly fishing trip, On River Time’s mentor network supports participants throughout the year in a way that cultivates their ability to trust and instills a heightened sense of value.