2009-05-23 / Front Page

Event honors soldiers, launches preserve

Seven veterans were honored during an open house at the LEEK Hunting Preserve recently. Pictured with founders Lew and Ed Fisher (standing) are (clockwise from left): Bill Hicks, Nick Santoro, Jason Roden, Jeremiah Catlin, Jonathan Preziner, Preston Jackson and Ramon Padilla. Seven veterans were honored during an open house at the LEEK Hunting Preserve recently. Pictured with founders Lew and Ed Fisher (standing) are (clockwise from left): Bill Hicks, Nick Santoro, Jason Roden, Jeremiah Catlin, Jonathan Preziner, Preston Jackson and Ramon Padilla. Seven servicemen were guests of honor last week at the first open house of the L.E.E.K. Hunting and Mountain Preserve in Oswayo. The event featured a dinner for approximately 75 guests, along with a ceremony honoring the soldiers.

Many who attended were local residents, but some traveled from Washington, D.C. Tom Bowman, aide to Sen. Arlen Specter, acknowledged the soldiers' contributions and sacrifices. Also speaking was Col. (Ret.) Jeff Earley, executive vice president for Advanced Concepts Technologies International (Act 1), a longtime Fisher family friend, who sponsored the event.

Recognized were soldiers Bill Hicks, Nick Santoro, Jason Roden, Jeremiah Catlin, Jonathan Preziner, Preston Jackson and Ramon Padilla.

"We are so fortunate to have so many people in the local community supporting our efforts to provide exceptional hunting and fishing opportunities to these men, most of whom are still recovering from their wounds and regaining their mobility," said Joan Michel, L.E.E.K. Preserve representative. "Spending a few days in a supportive, healthful environment is important to these soldiers."

The event also launched the preserve as a non-profit organization which recognizes the sacrifices of disabled service members by providing outdoor recreation. Wheelchair access is available on the 140-acre property and trail vehicles are also provided. Visitors receive home-cooked meals and are partnered with local outdoorsman, many of whom are also veterans.

The children of the late Lewis H. Fisher decided to build upon their father's wish to have his own property where family and friends could hunt, fish and enjoy the outdoors. Lewis and Edward Fisher have 57 years of service between them; with their younger brother, Donald H. Fisher (Coast Guard), the family has 62 years of service. With their sisters, Elaine Fisher and Kate Fisher, the brothers' aim is to allow disabled veterans the same outdoor activities they enjoy.

More information is available on the website, leekpreserve.org.

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