When I envisioned this organization, I knew getting financial support to manage the day-to-day operating expenses was going to be difficult at best, requiring diligence and hard work. As a previous business owner for 2 aviation operations and a tree service, I felt that I had a good foundation for what would be required to run the organization. Little did I know just how different starting and running a non-profit would be. From our first day in operation in February 2020, an unceasing effort to promote the organization and build our marketing strategy has been in motion. This often requires towing our floating billboard (Sportsman Tournament 234) just so others can see our commitment and the commitment of our sponsors while hopefully realizing our efforts are all in support of our veterans.
During the planning stages of the organization, my wife Vicki and I looked for a boat that we felt would be well-suited for the dream we had envisioned. After finding what we felt was a suitable solution and purchasing a 1-year old Sportsman Tournament 234 from a fellow IFA Redfish Tour competitor, we knew the expenses were just beginning. We had just invested more in a boat than we have invested in any two automobiles that we have owned. Still, we had a few options that needed to be added to ensure we provide the best experience for our disabled veterans. One of the first components that had to be added was a trolling motor that would self-deploy if we were carrying someone in a wheelchair on the bow deck. After purchasing a Minn Kota Ulterra from a local charter captain, we were provided the needed batteries by Captain Anthony Corcella of Tampa, FL. An additional battery would later be purchased from our friends at Interstate batteries to ensure we provided 36 volts of power to the trolling motor for a full day of fishing. As I began to install the batteries, I realized the onboard battery charger was only designed to charge the 2 system batteries for the boat. It was then that I was referred to Tel-Conn Manufacturing (TCM) to determine the best charger to fit our needs.
Regina Brueck of TCM took all of my information, to include a little background on our organization. It wasn't long before I received a call to inform me that TCM would be providing the organization with a ProMariner™ Pro Tournament 360 elite series charger to our organization at no charge, and also had an interest in sponsoring our efforts. After having an opportunity to speak with Tel-Conn Manufacturing President Pete Bateman, I was informed he is the son of a Pearl Harbor survivor and has a passion to support those who have served. Needless to say, a relationship began to form and our organization has been blessed to gain their support.