Dawn Rye | Writer
Three years ago, a conversation started with Bruce Weller, owner of BBB (Birds Bucks and Berries) Lodge located south of Parker and Cpl. Marine Sean Adams. Adams enlisted in the Marines in 2010 and was wounded by an IED (Improvised explosive device) in 2014 in Afghanistan.
Adams explained the first time he visited South Dakota was in 2015 when he participated in the BBB annual veteran’s hunt. While the duo was riding around the property about two years ago, he noted Weller honestly talked about selling the property.
Adams said, “Bruce, you always say the veterans have the best day out of the year for you.” He questioned him why not do it every day?
With his nonprofit industry experience, he said he would be more than happy to help Weller with a new organization said Adams. He noted Weller called him back a week later and was ready to move forward with turning the wedding lodge into a lodge for veterans.
“This is going to be the hardest work you will ever do in your life because you are trying to get people to give money instead of making money. People don’t like giving up the money they worked hard for. But, this will be the most impacted time of your life,” commented Adams.
Adams said there is a need for veterans like himself.
“I bleed, and I lost and gave up my life. I gave up my career at 19-years-old to save 12 Marines behind me,” commented Adams.
He explained veterans have been to hell and back and no matter what they do to transition back home in their minds, they are still in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Adams noted the most challenging part was coming up with a name for the nonprofit organization. He said it took the board two months to find a name until Navy commander Paul Wickman suggested “Wings of Valor.”
Adams commented he didn’t want to put his name on the line to be another project or mission associated with the “Wounded Warrior Project.” He noted their goal was to help veterans feel like they don’t have a disability when coming to the “Wings of Valor” Lodge. Adams said he created “Wings of Valor” so veterans can come here and not look down a gun barrel for the last resort. He noted he has lost several Marine friends due to suicide and they didn’t deserve to die. Adams stated he wants to give them hope.
“I can’t change what has happened to you. But what I can do is offer you a chance to go hunting like you did before you got wounded,” commented Adams.
Hopefully, he said, when the veterans come to “Wings of Valor,” they have the opportunity to be around each other and the camaraderie. He explained they spent a considerable amount of dollars on the beds and different immenities most people wouldn’t think about.
“We want this to be the planting ground and turning of the page. This is going to be the seed of a new beginning. It’s up to them to harvest it, there is nothing we can do,” said Adams.
Adams explained their main goal is to have veterans hunt pheasants and honor the valor of the service members who serve in the military.
He said they want to book veteran hunts every two weeks, however, they still offer guide service hunting to the public for a fee. Adams noted there are six rooms available at the lodge for disabled veterans with the goal of $3 million to operate it without having to worry about fundraising. He explained nonprofits lose sight of their mission because they are always trying to fund their mission. Adams noted they have raised over $1.5 million in the last eight months to get this project going. He said the goal is to reach $1 million per year to reach $3 million to operate.
He explained they could impact 160 guys that can hunt from September to March during the season. Adams noted there would be one volunteer per veteran, like a liaison, to make sure from when the veteran arrives to when they leave the lodge they are taken care of.
Dawn Rye | Writer