The original name of the award was to be the Larry Laney Memorial Award after Western NC native and one of the early Asheville PHWFF participants. For those of you that did not know Larry, he suffered from debilitating arthritis and a degenerative bone condition related to his military service. To see him you would have wondered how he even moved at all, that is until you placed a fly rod in his hand. What emerged, besides and infectious smile was one of the most natural and fluid casting stokes you had ever seen. He was truly a testament to the healing that could occur at the end of a Fly Rod and an inspiration to everyone that met him.
The recipient of the inaugural award was never in question and in 2017 John Bass was pick for the honor. Unfortunately, only weeks before the presentation we lost John. For most of us John was 10-foot-tall despite the fact he had been confined to that wheelchair for over most of his life. He was the patriarch of PHWFF here in NC and perhaps the most impactful volunteer the Organization had anywhere in the country. I don’t think anyone before or since has been responsible for recruiting more participants to PHWFF than John was. He believed if he could do it you sure didn’t have an excuse not to. It was only fitting that we change the Awards name to the Bass/Laney Memorial Award.
The 2018 recipient has had an amazing impact on disabled veterans throughout the county and he has been an important influence here in NC. In the beginning, many of the early decisions effecting PHWFF here in NC would only be made after John has bounced those ideas off Curits. Over the years, he has never failed to answer the call whether shooting shows, providing items for auctions and fundraisers, or just reaching out to a participant that happen to be a fan.
Curtis was humbled and honored to be the recipient of the 2018 PHWFF NC Bass/Laney Memorial award.