Okeechobee Outfitters hosts fundraiser for veterans

LORIDA — On Jan. 10, Okeechobee Outfitters hosted a “Heartland Songwriters Fundraiser” for The Sportsmen’s Foundation for Military Families (SFMF).

The fundraiser featured performances by Angy Griggs, Tommy Brandt and more.

SFMF offers eligible military veteran families the opportunity to participate in a professionally guided outdoor adventure. For the veteran family, an SFMF experience is extremely therapeutic and is often the trip of a lifetime.

“It’s about bringing the families back together,” said Okeechobee Outfitters owner Danny Santangelo. “We’re losing 20 veterans a day to suicide. When they’re deployed they’re totally separated from their families. My company brings families in every week, every month, around the clock. We bring those families in for a two-day, two-night stay at no cost to them with everything taken care of.”

The concert also featured former Green Beret Greg Stube as a guest speaker. Mr. Stube was wounded in Afghanistan during Operation Medusa. His team encountered overwhelming numbers of Taliban fighters in the Battle of Sperwan Ghar, which lasted over a week. Mr. Stube’s wounds from a remotely detonated IED and enemy fire seemed fatal, but instead he survived to endure months of hospitalization and surgeries. Huge wounds to his abdomen, hip and pelvis eventually closed, his nearly severed leg was restored, and extensive full-thickness burns were grafted. On the path to recovery, Mr. Stube endured 17 surgeries and an 18-month hospital stay. Mr. Stube retired from the military in 2011 after 23 years of service.

“Shortly after getting out of the hospital, I became aware of Danny and Okeechobee Outfitters,” said Mr. Stube. “He wanted to bring out my whole family. That was different, because up until that moment everything that was put in front of me were things I would be doing either by myself or with other wounded soldiers.

“After decades around the world on missions in the Green Berets I hadn’t been able to connect with my family well enough,” continued Mr. Stube. “I didn’t want the healing portion of my life to be separate from them as well. And this offered me the chance to build the bridges that I hadn’t been so good at building in my career.”

Tickets for the fundraiser were $50, and included a meal. Brad Phares also contributed an art print that was auctioned off to raise money for SFMF.

“I’m excited to see this community coming together for all the right reasons,” Mr. Stube said. “Because this honors those family members as well I think it makes us all more tuned in to be aware of the ways we’re supported. We don’t often pay enough attention to that.”

To learn more about SFMF, go online to huntforvets.com.

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