Lisa Caldwell has served in the United States Army for nearly three decades. She's worked in finance, climbed the ladder up to sergeant first class and been deployed to Kuwait, where she worked as a Civilian Personnel Officer and helped coordinate flights in and out of Afghanistan.
Approaching retirement, Caldwell is ready to begin a new chapter in her life — one that includes a lot more relaxation. So when her unit was offered a chance to go fishing with the Atlanta Falcons, she was the first to sign up.
Now in its eighth year, Fishing with the Falcons offers our military veterans a chance to spend time with players — past and present — on Lake Lanier. After several productive hours out on the water, everyone convened for a cookout, where awards were given for the biggest catch, smallest catch and largest haul.
Atlanta Falcons players, coaches and cheerleaders spent Thursday afternoon on Lake Lanier fishing with military veterans. The event is held to honor the veterans and give them a chance to compete for prizes.
"It's a great event," said Caldwell, who reeled in the first catch of the day: a midsized striper. "It means a lot. We figure the Falcons just play, make their money and go about their lives. But it's nice to know that people care about us — especially the wounded soldiers."
Among those in attendance were Falcons alums Michael Haynes, Jerious Norwood, Dave Archer, Rod Coleman and Brian Finneran; the group of current players included Joe Hawley, Patrick DiMarco, Jacob Tamme and Malliciah Goodman. Falcons Cheerleaders were there, too, as were coaches Terry Robiskie and Dan Quinn.
A West Point graduate and fellow Army veteran himself, Falcons fullback Collin Mooney enjoyed the afternoon on boat No. 20 with Caldwell. The 29-year-old fullback, who was commissioned in the field artillery branch, believes his experience in the military made this event all the more special.
"I had a lot of fun," Mooney said. "It's always great to be out there enjoying time with veterans and getting to know them and giving back to them."
The weather couldn't have been much better. Boat No. 20 claimed five fish in total — three stripers, two bass — a pair of which Caldwell reeled in. Once everyone returned to shore, the players signed autographs, took pictures and spent quality time with those who have sacrificed so much for our country.
"It's always special when you're able to give back in some small way," Mooney added. "Veterans have given a lot, sacrificed a lot. Any way you can show a small amount of appreciation, it goes a lot way. It means a lot to me to be able to do that and put a smile on someone's face."