Assisting his fellow veterans is a cause that is near and dear to Tony Smith’s heart.
That’s why the veteran of the British Army takes special pleasure in treating 25 military comrades to some fun on the water through his business, Tigertail Beach Paddleboard and Kayaks and the Freedom Waters Foundation.
Based in Naples, the nonprofit’s mission is to enhance lives by providing boating opportunities and marine-related activities for veterans and people with disabilities, life threatening illnesses, youth at risk and others with special needs.
Smith recently provided his business’ equipment during the morning, as well as lunch for the group of vets at his Tigertail Beach Cafe, as he
has done for the past two or three years for Freedom Waters, which he described as being a wonderful organization.
“Being a veteran myself, it’s just a pleasure for me to do that,” he said. “These guys are my NATO brothers and sisters and I love them dearly.”
The weather wasn’t great initially, forcing the group to wait for a thunderstorm to pass before hitting the water. But the delay didn’t dampen the fun or the camaraderie.
“We all had a blast,” said Smith. “For some of them, it was the first time they’d paddle boarded or kayaked.
“To see people kayak or paddle board for the first time is always good for
us,” he added. “To expose veterans to something they never tried before, that’s always a highlight. My hat is always off to the people who run the organization.”
Smith praised Freedom Water’s leader and founder, Debra Frenkel for her work.
“And the people who work for them are just fantastic, each and every one of them,” he added.
Smith said the veterans are always thankful and appreciative.
“They do really appreciate it,” he said. “There’re a lot of handshakes and a lot of thank yous. It’s always my pleasure.”