BASS LAKE — To honor Memorial Day weekend while celebrating the onset of the summer season, a special event is happening in the Bass Lake Water Sports marina at the Pines Resort on Friday morning, May 27. The sound of the National Anthem will resonate out over the glassy lake, as the Yosemite High School Color Guard kicks off a day of commemoration and recreation at 7:45 a.m. The free event offers fun, food and festivities that wind down by 2 p.m.
In the first of what is expected to be an annual extravaganza, Bass Lake Heroes’ Day Little & Big is an open invitation to all active duty and retired service personnel (the “big”) along with children from the adaptive sports program at Valley Children’s Hospital (“little”) to spend a care-free day on the water. There’s no charge to attend and many of the activities are offered free, as well.
A slew of people have been involved in organizing this day, including Lanie Suderman of local visitors’ bureau, Visit Yosemite Madera County. She tosses credit to Tom Tuso of Bass Lake Boat Rentals, and Sgt. Justin Bond, CEO and founder of Our Heroes Dreams.
Bond is a decorated veteran and veterans’ advocate who received the Purple Heart medal for combat in Iraq. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to improve the lives of retired and former military by helping them to accomplish dreams that may otherwise be sidetracked by disability. What could be better than a day at the lake for veterans and their families?
“Tommy and Justin were hanging out one day and Tommy decided he wanted to do something for our veterans, to give back to them,” Lanie says. “They decided that offering a day on the water with adaptive equipment that enabled play was the best way to go. Justin suggested they invite the kids from the adaptive sports program at Valley Children’s Hospital, and it grew from there.”
The 62-passenger Bass Lake Queen touring boat is open to everyone, and sets off three times during the day, at 9 and 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. With a great group expected that’s part of Our Heroes’ Dreams and an open invite to local veterans and families, it’s shaping up to be a stellar outing.
The Bass Lake Fire Department will be on hand with demonstrations, and a Korean tank is reportedly being brought in just for the occasion. More than 40 volunteers will be on site to help out, including representatives from Caring Veterans of America, Inc., and the local American Legion post.
Guests will have an opportunity to go water-skiing, tubing, fishing, swimming and more. Tom Tuso says there’s an adaptive paddleboard fitted with a wheelchair, so inclusion is the motto of the day.Many of the children from the adaptive sports program are residents of the foothills.
Lunch will be served by volunteers, music will be playing, and it’s expected to be a great day all around.
“The amount of people that have come together to offer their help, cooperation, donations, time, energy, ideas, expertise, connections, food, equipment, and so much more to Bass Lake Water Sports has been amazing,” Lanie is happy to report.
“I’ve never seen anything come together as smoothly and as generously as I’ve seen working with Heroes’ Day Big and Little. We look forward to an extraordinary event on Friday and we are excited to see what’s in store for future events. We have the best community, ever!”