Marlin

FOR THE HEROES

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What started as a social media post took on a life of its own in 2018. Hsieh decided to honor wounded war veterans by hosting a three-day fishing tournament with Freedom Alliance, a charitable organizati­on that helps promote the event and distribute proceeds to injured war veterans and their families. Freedom Alliance has awarded more than $13 million in college scholarshi­ps to the children of military heroes who were killed or disabled in war. It has also contribute­d millions more by assisting injured veterans and their families with outdoor recreation­al-therapy trips, care packages for deployed troops, all-terrain wheelchair­s, heroes’ vacations, and mortgage-free homes.

The inaugural War Heroes on Water tournament hosted 27 US military veterans in 2018, fishing on 11 of the top sport-fishing boats in Southern California, with the awards dinner held aboard Bad Company on the last evening.

Hsieh and his employees spend countless hours organizing the event, procuring items and trips for the silent auction, and handling the various details required to accommodat­e as many as 300 people at the opening reception, which is held at Hsieh’s home in Newport Beach. The 2018 silent auction raised over $90,000 for Freedom Alliance, and in 2019, the event hosted 50 veterans aboard 18 participat­ing yachts, raising a half-million dollars.

The unique WHOW event has veterans spending the first day learning about the targeted species— calico bass, rockfish, yellowtail, yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, dorado, striped marlin and swordfish— and the techniques to catch each, while the next two days are hardcore, competitiv­e fishing.

“Our goal is to give these brave and selfless heroes the weekend of a lifetime, but as it turns out, that’s also what they give us in return,” Hsieh says. “I am confident that every person who has participat­ed in this tournament returns changed in a very profound way. The event is uplifting and joyful, and yet deeply emotional. It’s that special.”

For more informatio­n, to volunteer your boat or to make a donation, please contact War Heroes on Water tournament director Rod Halperin at warheroeso­nwater@gmail.com.

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