Combating War Wounds With Wakeboarding

Attila Tassi, the January honoree of Malibu Boats' My Life My Boat project, is an amazing boat owner. But his remarkable story has less to do with his boat and more to do with his compassion and his organization Horton’s Heroes.

Tassi created this non-profit to support injured service personnel undergoing therapy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital. His goal is to bring some sense of normalcy to their lives and to show these men and women that people do care. Horton’s Heroes does this by giving wounded soldiers the opportunity to experience fun activities they otherwise might not have the ability to enjoy. Wakeboarding behind Tassi’s Hero Edition Malibu Wakesetter VLX, sky diving, visiting professional sporting events, going to dinner or seeing a movie are just some of the activities Horton’s Heroes is making possible for military men and women who sacrifice so much for our country.

Tassi launched Horton's Heroes in 2004, looking to make a difference in the lives of military personnel who were wounded during combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Horton’s Heroes was named for Tim Horton and represents all of the injured service men and women like him. Formerly a lance corporal in the Marine Corps, Horton’s left leg was amputated after he was injured during his tour of duty in Iraq. Tim was a resident of Walter Reed for some time, undergoing surgeries and working through recovery. Horton met Attila at a baseball game and now considers Attila one of his best friends.

Horton’s response to questions about how Horton’s Heroes and Attila helped him was simple: “Attila helped me stop worrying and he made life feel normal again. He got me out doing the things again.”

Horton's Heroes provides a wide range of support. They provide tickets to sporting events such as the Washington Redskins and Capitals games. They also provide dinners as well as movie and concert tickets. They have funded trips to Las Vegas and skydiving trips to Ocean City, Maryland. And now they are taking service personnel wakeboarding and tubing on the Potomac River behind their 2009 Heroes Edition Wakesetter VLX.

Former United States Army Sergeant Javier Torres met Tassi in 2006 at Walter Reed after being injured in Afghanistan a year earlier. Torres described Attila this way: "He's like the Disneyland for vets. He makes our dreams come true!"

Unfortunately, many soldiers return from combat severely wounded. Providing these services helps them heal mentally and physically. As Horton’s Heroes obtains more funding and support, Tassi plans to expand the support he provides to include other services such as legal and financial counseling.

Former United States Army Sergeant First Class Jason Burr summed up the power of Horton’s Heroes with this statement: "Giving any wounded soldier the opportunity to get outdoors is rehabilitative in and of itself. We get to experience real things again. Even though we’re wounded, we're not dead. With the help of organizations like Horton's Heroes and people like Attila, it shows us there's life on the other side of the challenges we face."