Fishing for Smiles at Legacy Lake

Residents at the Minnesota Veterans Home in Silver Bay Embark on a Fishing Adventure Once a Week

FINLAND, Minn. – Every summer thousands of people spend multiple hours launching their boat, baiting hooks and waiting for the ‘big one.’

However, many people are forced to give up their freedom of fishing as they age.

In Finland Minnesota, one man’s mission is now a mark on the calendar once a week.

“It kind of gets them doing what they used to do before coming to the Veterans Home,” said Josh Aldinger, Activities Director at the Minnesota Veterans Home.

For veteran Richard Abrahamson, every Thursday in the summer brings a throwback.

“It’s always nice to get outside,” said Abrahamson. “I’m always on my way, ready to go!”

Fishing with friends from the Minnesota Veterans Home in Silver Bay is something Abrahamson and many others look forward to once a week when the weather is warm and sun shines bright.

“You get out here, get the fresh air, catch fish, how can it get any better,” said Abrahamson.

For over ten years volunteers have come together, anchoring down along the shore of man-made Legacy Lake in Finland.

“The reason we’re out here is we’re thanking the vets for what they’ve done,” said Bob Buus, caretaker at Legacy Homestead.

What started as a vision has now turned into value. Land Owner Larry Schanno passed away in March of 2017.

“We’ve had so much great support that we can’t thank everybody enough,” said Buus.

Now, Larry’s legacy lives on through belly laughs and pictures that’ll last a lifetime.

“They get off the bus and a lot of times they say, this guy’s mine, that guy’s yours,” said Buus.

Volunteers vying for the best catch of the day.

“The fishing stories are always a little different on the way home,” said Aldinger.

“When you’re handicap like I am, you don’t get out fishing much. So when they take me out here, I have a lot of fun,” said Jim Hanes, a resident at the Minnesota Veterans Home.

Each week, six residents board the bus, setting sail for an afternoon of fun.

“We take whoever’s capable of coming out,” said Aldinger.

“I’m from Kentucky and there aren’t too many ponds down there,” said Hanes.

Many veterans getting one more chance in a life they’ve lived, to enjoy what they love most.

“Friday they get fried up and then we take them back to the Veterans Home,” said Buus.

“Old Tom fixes them up, they’re real good,” said Hanes.

A chance to cast light on life. Fishing for smiles with the heroes of our nation.

“Coming out here fishing, you always have fun fishing,” said Hanes.

“The reward of the smiles on their faces are worth more than anybody can ever say in words,” said Buus.

In the future, Buus and volunteers would like to raise enough money through donations to pave a path around the man-made lake.

Buus says this would make the experience more wheelchair accessible, especially after a large rainfall.

If you would like to donate, contact Bob or Diane Buus by mail at Legacy Homestead, P.O. Box 626, Finland, Minnesota, 55603.

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