On August 30th, Ed Nicholson, Founder and President Emeritus and previous CEO of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF), travelled to the Kenai River Drifter’s Lodge to bestow the Patriot Award to Bob Rima, co-owner of the Kenai River Drifter’s Lodge. This is the highest and most prestigious award given out by PHWFF. During the ceremony Ed stated ” It was a distinct pleasure to present the Patriot Award to Bob Rima. Under his leadership the Kenai Drifters Lodge, the staff and guides, have been providing incredible fishing experiences for our PHWFF participants for many years. It was quite evident that Bob, in his humble way, epitomizes all of qualities that represent the finest attributes of volunteerism and support for our disabled veterans, and in doing so, exemplifies those qualities of a true Patriot. Congratulations and thanks again for your outstanding support of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing.”
Damond Blankenship and Jan Schnorr, co-leaders for the Anchorage program, spoke about Bob’s specific contributions including some of the following. Soon after the PHWFF Anchorage program started in 2010, Bob volunteered to host a trip for 16 – 20 participants/volunteers as his official ceremonial start of the fishing season in April and the last trip of the year in October. Bob always said that he used us at the beginning of the year to help train all of his new guides.
After a few years, we requested a change in the trip schedule from October to September because it was too cold in April and in October to be an enjoyable experience and very few of our participants caught fish because the water was too cold and we encountered too much snow and ice. Bob was so accommodating; he agreed and rescheduled us for September, the prime time for catching trophy rainbows and Dollies, which of course also reduced his revenue but he never mentioned this impact. Now all of our participants catch fish on every trip! Bob dedicates four boats for our use so 16 individuals enjoy a full-service guide experience. His guides routinely request to be assigned to our trips. In addition to providing the guides for one day of fishing, Bob also donates one night of lodging in the main guest lodge.
During the past seven years, we have asked Bob to support a variety of other trips through discounts and in-kind donations and he is always eager to help. Since 2011, Bob has supported our program with over $45,000 of in-kind donations over 10 trips. His comment is always “How can I help?” Numerous participants frequently patronize his business and he always offers them special discounts. All of our participants “love” Bob and they are always eager to stop by and say “Hello” to him whenever they are near Cooper Landing.
Bob is truly a remarkable individual who always has a smile on his face and is eager to support our program and participants. During 2015, Jerry (one of our new participants) who had learned how to fly fish through the program while on the Tangle Lakes trip in June, met Bob on the fall fishing trip. Both individuals bonded quickly over their love of fly fishing and Bob offered Jerry a guiding job for the 2016 season. He is truly the most amazing lodge owner on the Kenai River and he inspires his guides to donate their services to PHWFF.