Wounded warriors treated to a day of fun in the sun

Wounded warriors treated to a day of fun in the sun
The owners say they plan on doing it every year for as long as they can. (Photo source: WLOX)
The owners say they plan on doing it every year for as long as they can. (Photo source: WLOX)

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Our nation's war veterans often come back home with life changing injuries, and they need our support. That's exactly what ten wounded warriors received Wednesday on Front Beach in Ocean Springs.

First on the to-do list, paddleboarding. Some stood, while others sat. Either way, it was fun.

"I paddleboard for a living," Instructor Amanda Mavar-Schmidt said. "And to be able to share that with somebody and actually enhance their lives, it's very rewarding. I couldn't really ask for much more."

A community that cares is very fulfilling for wounded warrior outreach coordinator Justin Bednar.

"It's very humbling to have the opportunity to have a community that's coordinated and is willing to reach out and assist us honoring our warriors and empowering them each and every day," Bednar explained.

Next on the list, yoga. The bright sun and warm sand helps sooth the soul, and ease troubled minds.

"I have been on events with the wounded warriors that have been life changing, for not only me, but other warriors," Janice Bradley said. "Some of us stay in the house a lot and don't go anywhere."

Many of the wounded warriors that gathered along Front Beach Wednesday have suffered traumatic injuries, either in Iraq or Afghanistan. And while paddleboarding was therapeutic, the yoga was perhaps even more therapeutic, according to instructor Clarissa Demauro.

"With yoga, you're able to breathe and connect and just completely come down from all of that. You're rehabilitated in not only a mental and emotional way, but also a physical way," Demauro explained.

These heroes agree.

"Got me out of the house and got us away from our place," Mark McAvoy said. "Tried something we never tried before, and run into some of my old buddies from my old unit and enjoy a beautiful day in Ocean Springs."

Beautiful and rewarding.

This is the second year the two businesses, Paddles Up, and Touch Your Toes Yoga, have hosted the event. The owners say they plan on doing it every year for as long as they can.

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