2021 War Heroes on Water sportfishing tournament raises record-setting $1.4M for combat-wounded veterans

- Fundraising success, driven by 51 sponsors and 1,123 donors as well as unprecedented level of in-kind support, drives significant year-over-year growth
Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 2:45 PM EDT

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Oct. 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- When WHOW Tournament Founder Anthony Hsieh created War Heroes on Water (WHOW), a one-of-kind event supporting the unique and ongoing needs of the combat-veteran community, he had no idea how deeply it would resonate with the Southern California community, the west coast sportfishing community and beyond.

The WHOW 2021 Sportfishing Tournament featured 40 of the west coast’s finest sportfishing...
The WHOW 2021 Sportfishing Tournament featured 40 of the west coast’s finest sportfishing yachts, all of whom donated their boats, captains, crews, fuel, tackle and food, representing an in-kind donation of more than $800,000. (Shown here: Tournament participants loop through Newport Harbor as part of the event’s second annual Boat Parade).

"The challenges faced by many of our nation's heroes as they transition back to civilian life are real, and suicide rates are unacceptably high," said Hsieh. "The WHOW Tournament makes a difference by forging meaningful human connections—between the veterans themselves, with our fleet captains and crews, and with the entire WHOW family—that replicate the brotherhood and sisterhood of the battlefield and serve as an enduring safety net of love and support. Our corporate sponsors and private donors recognize that need, which gives me great confidence that this tournament—and the much-needed support and services it delivers—will continue to gain momentum well into the future."

Now in its fourth year, the tournament has grown exponentially, with this year's event supporting 100 combat-wounded veterans as they heal from the physical, emotional and moral wound of battle. Funds raised also support thousands more through the tournament's charitable partner, Freedom Alliance. The heartbeat of the tournament—and what enables the event to continue its expansive growth—is the Southern California sportfishing community.

When the inaugural tournament launched in 2018, the WHOW fleet numbered 12. This year, Hsieh personally sent off 40 participating yachts from his dock—more than triple the original fleet. And, nearly half of the inaugural tournament's fleet was among the dozens that proudly looped through Newport Harbor and headed to sea with its 2021 veteran team. Every participating yacht is donated by its owners, and, when the boats, crews, fuel, tackle, food and more are tallied, represent a substantial in-kind donation of more than $800,000.

"What makes this tournament possible is all of our generous yacht owners," add Hsieh. "They all realize they are successful in life because of the freedom that all of our veterans fought for. I am truly humbled by the volume of support we continue to receive from the sportfishing community."

Now in its fourth year, the tournament also has attracted the interest of a broad range of private donors and corporate sponsors, all of whom have one important thing in common: a deeply held desire to acknowledge and support our servicemen and women.

It is an impressive accomplishment to raise more than $1M for a charity at any time, but especially in post-pandemic timeframe. "The volume of corporate support we achieved this year, at a time when many companies are adjusting their philanthropy budgets, is truly awe-inspiring," said Nicole Carrillo, loanDepot Chief Accounting Officer and fundraising lead for WHOW. "The tournament's year-over-year fundraising momentum is absolutely outstanding, and a testament to Anthony's infectious passion for serving our nation's heroes."

And, while the tournament continues to attract a growing number of new sponsors, it has also done something essential for consistent growth: maintained its original sponsors, many of which have increased their levels of partnership over the years.

Also helping to achieve that $1.4M milestone were thousands of families and individuals who donated to the cause, with contributions pouring in from 47 out of 50 states—and even internationally. Local interest within the Southern California community remained strong as well, with the tournament's celebrated silent auction, traditionally held during the event's kickoff festivities, bringing in more than $130K alone.

The heartfelt support from across the country—and at every donation level—has had a deep and lasting impact on Hsieh.

"We know that WHOW is changing and saving lives," he says. "We also know that we couldn't do this critical work without the support of all of our sponsors and donors. Everyone who comes together to support WHOW becomes a significant member of this special family."

Lori Wildrick

The 2021 WHOW Sportfishing Tournament will be held Oct 1 - 5 off the waters of Catalina Island....
The 2021 WHOW Sportfishing Tournament will be held Oct 1 - 5 off the waters of Catalina Island. Conceptualized in 2018 by Anthony Hsieh, CEO of loanDepot and leader of Team Bad Company, this event has grown from initially hosting 27 veterans and raising a little over $200k to committing to serve 100+ veterans and raising $1M in 2021. This planned growth will make WHOW one of the largest on-water combat-wounded veteran therapeutic programs of its kind in the country. (PRNewsfoto/War Heroes on Water)

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SOURCE War Heroes on Water

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