MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
On a clear fall day, dozens of people boarded a ferry to partake in the Hammocks Beach State Park Marsh Cruise Nov. 9, in order to see some sights, and to support the Wounded Warrior Project.
For the past seven years, the price of admission has been a toy donation for the Marine Corps Reserve Toys For Tots program, however this year a tragedy brought about a different cause to champion.
Christopher Campbell, a former lifeguard for the parks passed away when insurgents shot down the helicopter he was in, in Afghanistan. The Navy SEAL was an avid outdoorsman, and a proponent of ocean, hunting and sand dune preservation, according to his obituary.
The park asks for a minimum $5 donation to the organization, the money goes toward fostering the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded warriors in this nation's history, according to the Wounded Warrior Project website. They do this through recovery assistance, job training and a multitude of programs detailed on their website.
"He wanted to be remembered through support to the Wounded Warrior Project, which in turn supports his fellow brothers and sisters in the military," said Renee Tomczak, a ranger with the park. "Since it hit so close to home, this year, we're going to do it for the Wounded Warrior Project in memory of Christopher Campbell."
The park hopes to make $10,000 for the organization. So far they have made more than $8,000.
"I support this 100 percent," said George Stinson, a former sailor who took part in the event. "I hope service members, retirees and former service members come out and help."
While the program is set to return for Toys-For Tots next year, some participants hope that they continue to benefit Wounded Warrior Project.
"Toys For Tots is important, but I feel the cruise should keep supporting wounded warriors. Toys For Tots is everywhere, I just hope this doesn't die down," said Dorothy Couser, a local resident who has been on the cruise multiple times.
The Marsh Cruise follows a loose tour guide formula. It is a guided discussion that covers ecology, history, and cultural aspects of the area. Artifacts are brought along on the tour and discussed, including Native American artifacts and items from shipwrecks.
A donation to the Wounded Warrior Project can be made through wwproudsupporters.kintera.org/hammocksbeach. The cruises require preregistration. For more information call 326-4881.