3rd Annual Walking On Water Event Takes Vets Ice Fishing
More than 70 veterans were on Mantrap Lake this weekend for the 3rd annual Walking on Water event.
“We take older vets, disabled vets, veterans from all branches and we get them back out on the ice,” says Tim Schmid, owner of Walking on Water.
“It’s hard to draw veterans out, and this is one of the really good ventures for doing that,” says Jeff Siebert, commander of the #38 Park Rapids Disabled American Veterans.
The event was started by a group of friends from Park Rapids. The goal was simple: get our service men and women out in the great outdoors.
“I have not been ice fishing for 10 years,” says Siebert, “So I get out here today and he says, ‘there’s a flag up! Do you want it?’ So I go get on out there and was able to pull up a 31 inch northern.”
The first Walking on Water event had about 25 vets show up. This year, there were about 70-100 vets from all different branches and all different eras. The oldest was 93 years old. The vets are given the gear and they even get a free lunch. Most importantly, they get companionship.
“We started taking vets out fishing and we noticed a big change in who they were. A big change in how they lived their life. Depression started to fall beside. We started to make relationships with guys,” says Schmid.
“When you get a group of veterans together, there’s a camaraderie that builds in it, and it nice to be around fellow soldiers that have served and fellow service members,” says Darius Simon, an outreach case manager for the Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans.
Walking on Water says the event is possible because of the community. More than 70 volunteers showed up to help over the weekend. Nearly everything is donated from the fish houses to the fishing poles.
“Really, without the community stepping up and these people bringing their houses in, this event doesn’t happen,” says Schmid.
Walking on Water hopes to grow by bringing out even more vets in the future. Siebert says there are about 2,500 who live in the area, and he would love to see them all.
Siebert says, “We’re all brothers and sisters in arms – regardless of what branch we’re in, what war we were in, how old we are. We all have this common bond and to be able to sit there and be around our fellow veterans, that’s what it’s all about.”
There was about 20 fish houses donated to this year’s event. To learn more about events put on by Walking On Water, you can follow them on Facebook here.