2021 War Heroes on Water sportfishing tournament raises record-breaking $1.35M to benefit combat-wounded veterans

- Success driven by 51 sponsors and 1,123 donors as well as an unprecedented level of in-kind support

- Tournament directly helped 100 combat-wounded veterans heal from the physical, emotional and moral wounds of battle

- Said tournament founder and loanDepot CEO Anthony Hsieh, "There's nothing else that I've done in my life that has had more human-to-human impact."

Oct 7, 2021

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Oct. 7, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- On Monday, October 4, 2021, thirty-eight of the West Coast's finest sportfishing vessels, led by WHOW tournament founder and loanDepot Founder/CEO Anthony Hsieh, lined up to create a mile-plus long parade just outside the town of Avalon on Santa Catalina Island, bringing the fourth annual War Heroes on Water (WHOW) sportfishing tournament to a close. That breathtaking sight was set against another epic backdrop—a dramatic and rare pop-up lightning storm.

Following the formation, 12 of the WHOW fleet stood by to bring their biggest catches to the Avalon green Pleasure Pier, where they enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the dream of many a West Coast fisherman: to see their fish weighed and photographed on this iconic fishing landmark. For more than three hours, tourists, Avalon locals and the WHOW yacht crews and veterans watched and cheered as each yacht came into the pier, bringing in a total of 21 of the tournament's largest bluefin tuna to be weighed and documented.

The weigh-in, livestreamed to YouTube, was yet one more record-setting moment in the record-breaking tournament. Before the first tournament yacht had launched, the event had already set new records for number of participating veterans, number of sportfishing yachts, number of sponsors, number of donors, and, most important, dollars raised to support the rehabilitation needs of combat-wounded veterans and their families. Together, these milestones propelled the tournament to its new stature as the largest nonprofit sportfishing tournament in the U.S.

But the tournament was not created to break records—it was created to help change the lives of combat-wounded veterans, and set them on a path to healing. The veterans aboard, many heralded for their bravery and valor— including 49 Purple Hearts, 108 Commendation Medals, 112 Achievement Medals, 35 Bronze Stars and 14 Humanitarian Assistance Medals—gathered  from all parts of the country to find peace and healing with the community that loves and supports them. Notably, and demonstrating the event's broadening reach and impact, for the first time ever, two of the tournament's boats had all-female veteran teams on board.  

Hsieh created the WHOW tournament in 2018 following a fishing trip he held for a group of veterans. Before returning to port, he already had a vision for the tournament—and how he wanted it to be able to support the needs of our country's combat-wounded heroes. Today, WHOW raises money for its charitable partner, Freedom Alliance, an organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of wounded service members, combat veterans and military families. Each year Freedom Alliance provides therapeutic services for thousands of veterans, as well as scholarships for the children of fallen or combat-wounded servicemen and women.

Said Hsieh at the awards ceremony, "I am deeply appreciative of everyone's efforts to make this a tremendous event and memorable tournament, and I want to acknowledge all of the time, effort and financial contributions that it took to make all of this possible. I can tell you that, while I don't know what next year's tournament will look like, I do know that we will continue to build on this momentum and that our goal is to impact even more veterans. There's nothing else that I've done in my life that has had more of a human-to-human impact. And, over these past four days, as much as we've made an impact on our veterans, they've made an equal, if not greater, impact on us."

About War Heroes on Water
War Heroes on Water (WHOW) is an annual sportfishing tournament of unprecedented scale that supports combat-wounded veterans' programs. It was created in 2018 by loanDepot Founder and CEO Anthony Hsieh, who is also the owner and leader of Team Bad Company, a world-class, record-holding competitive sportfishing fleet. Through Hsieh's deep connections with the Southern California sportfishing and business communities, WHOW has grown exponentially over four years and is now the largest nonprofit sportfishing tournament in the US. Learn more about WHOW at www.warheroesonwater.com or follow WHOW on Facebook and Instagram.

About Freedom Alliance
Freedom Alliance is a charitable organization which provides help and support to wounded troops and military families. Freedom Alliance has awarded more than $18 million in college scholarships to the children of military heroes killed or disabled in military service and has spent millions more helping injured veterans and military families with outdoor recreational therapy trips, Heroes Vacations, care packages for deployed troops, mortgage-free homes, all-terrain wheelchairs and much more. To learn more, visit www.FreedomAlliance.org or Facebook.com/FreedomAlliance.

Lori Wildrick


SOURCE War Heroes on Water