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Wake for Warriors returns

Three summer events in the JBLM area will offer recreation and camaraderie to veterans

Wake for Warriors Weekend is coming to JBLM in August. Photo credit: Wake for Warriors

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This summer, Wake for Warriors returns for the second year to lakes around the South Sound, providing recreation and bonding for veterans and their families. Brought to this area in May 2018 by Army veteran Terry Knight, Wake for Warriors exists to provide -- through wakeboarding -- an opportunity for wounded warriors to heal and connect with other veterans while spending a carefree day or two on the water.

Knight's interest in Wake for Warriors was born out of something many would consider a tragedy, but for Knight, it was a challenge. After serving for several years with the Armed Forces, including a deployment to Iraq as part of a Forward Surgical Team, Knight returned home only to be diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gherig's Disease. The limitations of the disease forced the active Knight to forgo many of the activities he enjoyed, but instead of giving up, Knight went in search of a sport that could accommodate his new reality. He discovered wakeboarding and Wake for Warriors.

"I loved it!" said Knight, who serves as the Northwest lead for Wake for Warriors. "I enjoyed it so much that when I returned home I tried to find a group to surf with here in Washington and couldn't find anyone. I called Dave and asked about the possibility of bringing Wake for Warriors to Washington. He agreed, and we went to work ..."

Wakeboarding uses the waterskiing equivalent of a snowboard that is towed through the water by a specially equipped wake boat. Wake boarders attempt to cross the boat's wake, and even do tricks, while skimming along the water's surface at speeds up to 30 miles an hour. The Wake for Warriors organization sponsors wakeboarding events across the country in an effort to provide wounded warriors with an opportunity to recreate and bond with other wounded veterans.

This year, Knight has nine Wake for Warriors events planned for the Pacific Northwest. Three of those are near Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM). Two single-day events will be held over the next two months. The first one is scheduled to be held Saturday, June 22, at Spanaway Lake; the second is scheduled for Saturday, July 20, at Lake Tapps. Information on these two events is available at the Wake for Warriors website (

The main event, however, is the Wake for Warriors Weekend to be held on American Lake from Thursday, Aug. 15, through Sunday, Aug. 18. Participants will stay in the cabins of the Northwest Adventure Center in JBLM-Lewis North. Meals will be provided by the American Lake Conference Center. Other possible activities could include kayaking, a surfboard paddle race, and more. The main activity for the weekend, however, will be three high-energy days of wakeboarding on beautiful American Lake.

"This four-day event is being sponsored by Pacific Nautique and Hyperlite Wake," says Knight. "Pacific Nautique is donating the use of two Nautique Wake Boats, fuel, and drivers. Hyperlite Wake has donated six wake surfboards of different sizes and styles plus Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices (PFDs)."

Space for all three events is very limited, so early registration is encouraged, and all events are free for both active-duty and retired military. To register for one or more of these events, or to donate to Wake for Warriors, please visit the Wake for Warriors website at:

Wake for Warriors Weekend, 3 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 15 through Sunday, Aug. 18, Northwest Adventure Center, 8050 NCO Beach Rd., JBLM

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