Throwing out a line for area military vets

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HARTFORD --  This last spree of Summer weather created the perfect scenario to make it out to the water and it was busy at the boathouse on Liebert Road in Hartford for a Autumn Tuesday.

Volunteers offer their boats and bait all to help local military veterans. Gaylord Hospital, Riverfront Recapture, and the Connecticut Bass Nation put on the "Tournament of Champions" offering disabled vets a day of fishing on the Connecticut River. The program, now in its 6th year, came from Sgt. Joe Kowalski, a Marine vet who is well known in fishing circles. "I wanted to do a program where I could get therapy to these guys for the rest of this lives," Kowalski, 57, said.  "It's just a relaxing therapeutic day and fishing seems to be the ticket."

This year, an all time record on the water, 22 veterans did battle on the water to see who could land the biggest bass. "It's not always about catching a fish, it's meeting new people and enjoying the weather," said Eddie Dusick, a Vietnam vet from Milford, who is paralyzed from the waist down but still is involved in fishing and golf. "Most veterans can't afford a bass boat so this is amazing," Dusick added after throwing out a line in Wethersfield Cove.

Each vet out on the water gets their own boat donated for the day, complete with a captain to guide them in search of the big one. Karl Sandquist, from Prospect, said he was happy to take a vacation day and drop his bass boat in the water for military personnel. "It's an honor for us to take these guys out on the water... and the fish are just a bonus."

To find out more about the Tourmanent of Champions click here.

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