We always love to catch up with our friend David Deep, Founder of Wake For Warriors, to see what he’s been up to and how the vision for his life-changing program is progressing. If you’re not familiar, David has an incredible team that brings veterans out for a day on the water with their friends and family. With events across the United States all summer long, David and his group are always busy giving back to those that have given so much for our freedom and we couldn’t be more honored to support Dave and his efforts.
For those that may not know, can you tell us a little about Wake For Warriors and your mission?
Wake for Warriors is a water sports therapy program for injured military veterans. We connect with these veterans by sharing our love for wake sports and lake life. We are able to build lasting relationships with our veteran participants during our 4-day camps. Over the past decade, we have built a community that looks after each other and provides resources for them on and off the water.
Can you tell us a little about how your team makes such a difference with our Veterans and what these experiences bring to them?
As with any successful organization, it's the people involved that make the difference. We have been fortunate to team up with individuals across the nation and with companies like Nautique, SeaDek, GM Marine, and Hyperlite. We've also partnered with other veteran organizations such as The Semper Fi Fund, EOD Warrior Foundation, The National Abilities Center and Camp Southern Ground. These amazing people are excited about sharing the healing power of the water with our veteran participants and that makes all the difference. The friendships built between our volunteers and veterans though Wake for Warriors is by far the most rewarding thing to experience.
What has the Wake For Warriors team been up to in 2021?
With the help of our volunteer teams, we were able to host 29 events in 16 states with almost 300 veteran riders. We also had 28 adaptive athletes compete in 5 competitions including the Nautique Wakesurf and Wakeboard series.
What have been some memorable moments from the past few years?
Scrolling through the thousands of pictures and videos always brings a smile to my face. Watching Jereme, a double amputee surfing moments after he looked me square in the eye and asked me if I knew what I was doing. Attending a Chicago Cubs game and seeing Tyler, a paraplegic, walk out in an exoskeleton and throw out the first pitch. Celebrating weddings, babies, and victories in the lives of veterans and volunteers that have turned into an extended family to me. Like any family, we're there in times of trouble and it's a privilege to be trusted as a friend to call when the storms of life hit. One of the things we say is don't let your bad days trick you into thinking you have a bad life.
How does the Nautique partnership benefit Wake For Warriors?
Having the Nautique network of partners and dealers has allowed us to extend our reach across the country. Nautique provides us with a Super Air Nautique G23 to take to these events and they have added an adaptive division to every competition. Starting this year, Nautique engineers are assisting us with building adaptive equipment to support our mission as well.
As you know, Nautique owners are some of the most generous people in the world and they continue to volunteer their time to coach and drive at our events. We also have very supportive dealerships like Watersports Central in Georgia, MarineMax in Lake Ozark, Croft Marine in Utah and Buxton Marine in Texas. It's an amazing feeling to have the support of so many genuine people and we couldn't accomplish our mission without them.
What’s the plan for 2022? Any new events or expanding?
We started building regional chapters throughout the country and have been training veteran coaches and drivers. In addition to the Pacific Northwest we're adding a Southwest, Midwest and East Coast chapter in 2022. These chapters will team up with local Nautique owners and dealers allowing us to host more events in 2022.
Do you have any other long term goals in mind?
Our long term goal is to continue to grow and to train up former veteran riders to be coaches and drivers. We feel it's important that all of our events are led by veterans and that they have input in what we do as an organization.
How can someone get involved or donate to Wake For Warriors?
Go to wakeforwarriors.org and check out our events for next year. You can volunteer for an event as well as donate. Administrative costs are covered by a group of individuals, so all of your donations go to help us provide travel, food, lodging, event support and adaptive equipment.