Orvis, an outdoor equipment and apparel company with a focus on fly fishing, has announced the winners of its inaugural Breaking Barriers Awards. This new program was created to recognize individuals who have gone to great lengths to promote the sport of fly fishing, and have broken down barriers to make it easier for individuals to participate in the acitivty.
This year, Orvis gave the award to two people who fit that description perfectly. Both have found creative and innovative ways to use fly fishing as a way to make a difference not only in their own lives, but in the lives of others as well. Those two individuals are Chad Brown and Lori-Ann Murphy.
Chad Brown is a veteran of the U.S. Navy where he served as a Combat Explosives Engineer in both Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait, and Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. During his 15 years of service he was stationed all over the world, including places like New Zealand, Egypt, Cuba, Afghanistan, and more. In 2010, Brown was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which created daily challenges for living his life. While he sought treatment through typical therapy sessions, he discovered that the real cure to his PTSD was fly fishing. When he was introduced to the sport by a friend, he immediately felt a sense of tranquility and happiness come over him.
Realizing the therapuetic properties of fly fishing, Brown started Soul River to blend his love of the sport with art, creativity, and design. Later, he would also launch Soul River Runs Wild, a non-profit dedicated to bringing underserved inner-city youth together with military veterans on fly-fishing trips that help spark a love and respect for nature and the great outdoors. Last year, Brown had more 300 kids go through his program, and he expects that number to double in 2015.
The other winner of the first ever Breaking Barriers Award is Lori-Ann Murphy. Back in 1992, Murphy put on the first ever Orvis Women’s Fly Fishing School in Jackson, Wyoming, creating an atmosphere that was very accommodating to female anglers. A year later she, along with six other women, began leading ladies-only fly fishing excursions into the backcountry. Those trips became a major succes, prompting Murphy to eventually launch her own guide service called Reel Women. The company specializes in female-friendly fishing trips, and over the years it has become the model for similar organizations all over the world. Murphy has helped encourage countless women to take up fly fishing, which is the perfect example of what the Breaking Barrier Awards are all about.
Orvis promises to be on the lookout for similar fly-fishing ambassadors to be recipients of future editions of the Breaking Barrier Awards. If you know someone who deserves such recognition, you can nominate them by clicking here.