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Ice fishing derby to support veterans and first responders

Operation Reboot Outdoors was founded to support veterans suffering from PTSD or other injuries, through free hunting and fishing events.

TURNER, Maine — A non-profit in Turner has helped hundreds of veterans and law enforcement members from different parts of New England in it's short three year existence. Operation Reboot Outdoors brings vets hunting and fishing, helping them ease back into civilian life while having fun with others with shared experiences.

One of ORO's largest fundraisers is happening March 20th: a fishing derby in Roxbury; and despite the warmup and pandemic regulations, founder Dan Waite says they're ready for a fun and safe event. 

Waite is an Army combat veteran himself, and admits that Operation Reboot has also helped him find his place back home. I first met him just over a year ago when I tagged along with a group of vets on an ice fishing excursion. Since then, ORO has experienced a bit of a growth spurt thanks to some recognition on Mike Rowe's show, Returning The Favor

In a special Veteran's Day episode, Rowe surprised Waite with a new side-by-side to help him bring more vets into the woods or out on the ice for some fishing. 

Through ORO, Waite and his volunteer guides have worked with hundreds of veterans, service members, and law enforcement officers - hunting and fishing with them. For three years, home base has been Waite's home in Turner; but the ultimate goal is to expand to some space in Byron. "You're surrounded by lakes and mountains and it just gives you this really calm feeling when you're there," says Waite. "I tell you what, if you can't heal there, I don't know where else you can heal."

Money from this weekend's ORO Welcome Home Ice Fishing Derby will help pay the bills there. The derby will include $10,000 in prizes. You can sign up ahead of time on Facebook, or send an email to: nicole@operationrebootoutdoors.com. 

"All the money that Operation Reboot gets goes into our program," says Waite. "No one here collects a paycheck. We concentrate on mission and the people that we serve more than anything else."

To learn more about the March 20, 2021 Ice Fishing Derby, click here

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