Mechanic Falls resident and Veteran James Jordan casting his fly rod. Jessie Felix

The first Maine Fly Fishing Summer Showcase is scheduled to take place at Thomas Point Beach in Brunswick on Saturday, with all proceeds going to support wounded veterans.

The event will include a fishing tournament, an exhibition and an afterparty and is being organized by two Maine-based fly-fishing companies: Maine Fly Guys and Maine Fly Company. All proceeds from the event will be donated to the Togus Maine Chapter of Project Healing Waters, an organization that puts on fly-fishing programs to help wounded veterans.

According to both Maine Fly Guys CEO and founder Greg LaBonte and Maine Fly Company founder Jeff Davis, the choice to donate proceeds to Togus chapter of Project Healing Waters became obvious after listening to the powerful stories of veterans involved with the organization.

Mechanic Falls resident and veteran James Jordan  has been a member of the Togus Maine Project Healing Waters chapter since June of 2019. He said that fly-fishing and the organization offered him support during “the ultimate low” of his life.

“We went to Afghanistan in 2009 and it was probably one of the roughest deployments we could ever imagine,” Jordan said. “We had a lot of guys that got wounded — myself included.”

Sabrina Beganny and James Jordan, both veterans and members of the Togas Maine Project Healing Waters chapter, posing for a picture while out fly-fishing. Jessie Felix

Jordan described two instances of landmines being set off just feet away from him, one of which knocked him out, leaving him with extensive shrapnel wounds, a damaged eardrum and a traumatic brain injury. After returning from Afghanistan in 2010, Jordan said he suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I found Project Healing Waters at the most important time when I needed it the most,” Jordan said, describing the sense of community fly-fishing has given him. “It’s therapeutic because we can open up and start to feel like a human again, and there is no judgement.”

Jordan said he is looking forward to attending the event on Saturday to help support the program and the cause. “I think my brothers that didn’t come home would be proud to know that I’m trying to do what I can to help other people, other veterans,” Jordan added.

According to Bill Owens, the project lead for the Togus Maine Project Healing Waters,  in light of the pandemic, the chapter is very grateful for the support. Any money generated from the event will be used to fund overnight trips locally, Owens added, noting that there are about 15 veterans associated with the Togas chapter.

“It just seemed like the perfect cause for this inaugural year,” Davis said, also mentioning that another influence for choosing that organization was his father, who is a Navy veteran.

The fly-fishing tournament entry costs $50 and will begin at 12:01 a.m. and go until 5 p.m. Anglers will be casting for striped bass and can participate anywhere along the coast of Maine throughout the day.

The exhibition at Thomas Point Beach, will cost $4 for entry, go from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and consist of different vendors, fly-fishing casting clinics, food trucks, educational talks and more.

“It’s really transformed into this statewide event that we want all kinds of people to attend,” said LaBonte. Both LaBonte and Davis said that the original idea for an event was thought up by their friend, Joel Soucie.

The afterparty will take place at Trinken Brewing Company, a veteran-owned brewery in West Bath. The brewery crafted a special fly-fishing American pale ale called “On the Fly” for the event and will be donating one dollar for every beer poured at the afterparty.

“My business partner Tyler is a veteran so anything that comes up that we can do to benefit veterans and help them is definitely a good cause in our eyes,” said Trinken Brewing Co-owner Ryan Bisson.

The event is sponsored by and in collaboration with companies such as Old Town Canoe’s, Kittery Trading Post, Moody’s Collision Center, Maine Woman’s Fly Fishers and others.

“I’m really about supporting organizations that basically support fly-fishing,” said Davis. “This is not something that Maine Fly Company wanted to get revenue from. It was more, how can we all come together, have a cause that we can get behind and hang out together on the water once a year.”

For more information, visit eventbrite.com.

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