2023 makes five consecutive years running that the Patriot Sporting Challenge has reached out into the community to find like-minded, good-hearted people willing to give a hand to the families of disabled or deceased Texan veterans.
How can Wood County families help? By fishing, golfing, and having a day of fun!.
The Patriot Sporting Challenge, created in 2017 by Chuck Roy and Gary Schnabel, is a nonprofit organization based in Wood County. Now headed by Schnabel—a Vietnam War veteran—the charity’s annual aim is to collect funds to donate towards helping educate the children or spouses of veterans who have given their all.
Many times, as Schnabel states, a death or severe injury on the part of the veteran can result in traumatic stress and economic troubles for the families they leave behind. The Patriot Sporting Challenge wants to help address this on the local level.
“We are building for the future of our nation—paying it forward, if you will—so that the dreams of our fallen or severely wounded heroes can become a reality,” The Patriot Sporting Challenge website states. “These children are our future. They are tomorrow’s heroes and the protectors of our freedoms that we all hold so very dearly.”
Almost every cent of their net proceeds raised are donated to the Folds of Honor, a nationwide but also “Texas statewide organization” which gives scholarships to these families and children. However, in 2023, the Patriot Sporting Challenge also created a new partnership with Heroes Ranch. This local, Wood County based charity provides a sort of outdoor therapy and rehabilitation facility for veterans of many kinds who have been severely wounded (whether physically or mentally).
The Heroes Ranch website states, “Established in 2020, Heroes Ranch has been the culmination of years of planning, dreaming, and a deep desire to give back to heroes and their families. We strive to adapt to the needs of our heroes by providing outdoor wheelchairs, ramps, specialized guns, and more!”
The event is organized into three categories: the morning golfing tournament, the morning fishing tournament, and the afternoon “casino games” event. The event starts off with the four-person teams splitting into two-person teams. Team A competes in a fishing tournament from 6:30 a.m. until just after noon, while Team B goes to the Links at Land’s End golf course and competes from 8:30 a.m., also until just after noon. Prizes are awarded during the “casino games” event, which in 2023 was held at the Neon Moon in Yantis.
The casino games event is comprised of a lot more than games for charity. In fact, there is food to be ordered at any time off a select menu, special drawing items, an online auction, and more! Every piece of the event is designed to support the charity.
Patriot Sporting Challenge was held on June 3rd this year. But don’t worry, next year’s event is already in the works! In fact, registration for teams, sponsors or donations is already open and can be accessed on Patriot Sporting Challenge’s website.
In 2023, the community contributed to the event like never before. “It was only fitting that on our Fifth Year Event Anniversary we would hit so many firsts,” Schnabel writes. For instance, The Patriot Sporting Challenge did have a record-breaking attendance: 350 individuals attended the Celebration of Patriotism, 50 two-person teams participated in golfing, and 40 two-person teams fished. In addition, the financial donations—which will themselves be donated towards the families of veterans—were the largest ever in 2023.
“We are still in awe to see such support from everyone,” Schnabel says. “Your outstanding support this year allowed us to surpass our five-year goal of donating more than $500,000 to the Folds of Honor.”
Even in past years, this honorable organization has far exceeded what seemed possible. In fact, in December of 2021, the Patriot Sporting Challenge was invited to the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, at which they presented the Folds of Honor with a check for $300,000 out on the field. The contribution was met with a standing ovation from the audience of mostly veterans.
The five-year anniversary in 2023 was a big deal for the Patriot Sporting Challenge. Five years in a row, the community has come down to the beautiful shores of Lake Fork and shown that they’re willing to help. For five years, the Wood County community has given the charity growth, support, and caring. In just five years, the Patriot Sporting Challenge—through this community support—has managed to donate more than $500,000 to the children and families of Texan veterans.
“We thank you again from the bottom of our hearts for what you made happen, and we are looking forward to 2024, when we can provide another great opportunity for everyone to get involved in supporting our heroes,” Schnabel says.
Want to help make it a great sixth year? Sign up for a team or donate to the Patriot Sporting Challenge at https://patriotsportingchallenge.org.