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Families Connect at Wounded Warrior Project Hiawatha Beach Weekend

The fifth annual Hiawatha Beach Weekend recently brought families together at picturesque Leech Lake. 


WALKER, Minn. (June 8, 2017) – Larry Jacobson’s idea of a “small way to do something” involved bringing an entire community together and opening the doors to his lakeside camp to Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) veterans and their families for a weekend.

The fifth annual Hiawatha Beach Weekend recently brought families together at picturesque Leech Lake. Guided fishing tours, beach volleyball, paddleboarding, boating, horseback riding, hiking trails, bicycling, golf, and swimming were available – all in a relaxing setting that allowed veterans to connect with other warriors and nature.

The Jacobson family blocked the weekend that starts the summer season for veterans and their families. People and local businesses in and around town donated food, gift cards, and their time to show their encouragement for the recovery of warriors with visible and invisible wounds. Twelve local fishing guides gave up business during the opening week of the season to take families on the lake.

“It makes you feel good to know the sacrifices we’ve made are appreciated,” Army Reserve veteran Forrest Pryde said. “I really do think the town gets as much out of it as we do. What I like is connecting with other veterans, building on our bonds. We all share a lot of common interests and desires.”

Thanks to generous donors, WWP programs and services are offered free of charge to warriors, their caregivers, and families, and they assist with mental health, physical health and wellness, career and benefits counseling, connecting warriors with one another and their communities, and long-term care for the most seriously wounded.

Larry started making Cabin 9 available to veterans on weekends 10 years ago. In 2013, he decided to offer his entire camp in what’s become his family’s favorite event of the year.


Hiawatha Beach and the surrounding communities made sure WWP veterans and their families weren’t forgotten, either.


”We are so in debt to our service members,” Larry said. “We can’t repay that debt. We have a deep appreciation for people who give so much. It’s a small way we can do something for them.”

The attendees enjoyed the overwhelming displays of gratitude.

“I can’t tell you how good it felt to walk down the street with your Wounded Warrior Project shirt on and to have people come up to you and say, ‘thank you’ and shake your hand,” Forrest said. “You really felt respected.”

Army Reserve veteran and WWP peer mentor Connor Moore hoped other warriors would expand their comfort zones by joining him at a nightly campfire.

“For a couple of years, nobody would come to the fire,” he said. “Once they realized they were surrounded by other veterans, they started to come out this year. Everyone felt very secure.”

Including one warrior who didn’t leave his room the first day.

“He was a recluse and wouldn’t come out,” Connor said. “We helped him realize he’s safe because he’s around veterans. He joined us at the campfire during the last night, and then he came down for breakfast the next morning.

“If I can get somebody to start talking and opening up, we’ve done our part. That made the entire weekend worthwhile for me.”

Peer support plays an important role in the recovery process as injured veterans rely upon one another’s learned experiences when managing day-to-day challenges. This special type of therapy reintroduces injured veterans to the unique bonds experienced during military service. Rarely duplicated in the civilian world, these relationships act as a secure bedrock that paves the road to recovery.

Forrest’s wife, Jamie, was empowered by sharing her experiences with other family members of veterans.

“The most important part of the weekend was the connections I made with other family members,” Jamie Pryde said. “It’s comforting to know someone else understands what it’s like. Our situations may be unique, but you’re around other people who understand. You’re not alone.”

Hiawatha Beach and the surrounding communities made sure WWP veterans and their families weren’t forgotten, either.


Contact: Mattison Brooks – Public Relations


Phone: 904.646.6897

About Wounded Warrior Project
Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) connects, serves, and empowers wounded warriors. Read more at


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