Wake for Warriors

We spend a weekend learning about these riders and this organization.

Wake for Warriors (WFW) exists to grow community among veterans, create fun memories, and encourage military members with disabilities. The organization’s influence changes lives and increases their morale as they gain new abilities in watersports. WFW offers a fun outlet for military veterans to make new friends while learning to wakesurf and wakeboard all for free! Well sort of, WFW is a non-profit organization so I’ll let you know how you can join their mission and support this amazing organization. 

The weekend I spent with these warriors started with a meet and greet at a local restaurant. After getting acquainted with each other, we went back to the hotel since we had an early morning ahead of us the next day. Before heading to bed, I was able to relax a bit in the hot tub. before heading to bed. It was there that I met Matt, a Marine who had a terrible accident during deployment with an improvised explosive device (IED). Our military serves our country with great honor and pride, but often at a great cost. Sadly, he lost one of his legs and is now wheelchair bound. However, don’t be fooled, he doesn’t let it hold him back one bit! He absolutely shreds behind the boat in his improvised Hyperlite wake surf board with a custom sitting cage built by Adaptive Wake Solutions. Matt was always ready to ride one more wave the whole time and his smile could be seen from a mile away! After the weekend, I further caught up with the founder, Dave Deep, and a few of the veterans to ask how Wake for Warriors has impacted their lives. Here’s what they had to say.

Dave Deep launching
Dave Deep, founder, riding. Courtesy Wake for Warriors

Dave Deep, Founder of Wake for Warrior

The organization was born from my personal experience around water and boats. After returning home from my deployments in Afghanistan one of the first things I did was buy a boat.  With all the transition of my new airline job and reintegration back into “normal “ life, the one thing that remained constant was the feeling of peace when riding behind the boat. Eventually I felt the need to share that with others and that’s how it all got started. The first “event“ was held in 2013 when I invited Tony Mullis, a double amputee, to my house to help me figure out how to teach him to wakeboard. 10 years later, Tony still helps me figure out things as a WFW board member. He also was on the podium at the 2022 Nautique Wakeboard Worlds and Wakesurf Masters competitions. The absolute best part of Wake for Warriors is having the opportunity to meet so many incredible people and develop friendships that last beyond the 3 day events. I’m looking forward to 2023 as we host over 35 events in 17 states riding with hundreds of veterans and their families. 

Kyle Carpenter on the boat
In July 2010, Lance Corporal Carpenter deployed to Marjah, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. On November 21, 2010, while joining his team to fight off a Taliban attack in a small village, he suffered severe injuries to his face and right arm from the blast of an enemy hand grenade. Courtesy Wake for Warriors

Kyle Carpenter, Medal of Honor Recipient, Board Member

In recovery or in life there comes an inevitable point where you’ve been knocked down and you wonder if you can get back up or if you will ever be the same. Wake For Warriors not only picks you up but it gives you an experience to remind you that you are still alive and that life is still worth shredding to the max!

Woody State

As a bilateral leg amputee, Wake for Warriors introduced me to yet another activity I thought I may never be able to participate in with prosthetics. Conquering the seemingly impossible with the assistance of patient and persistent coaches is truly food for the soul. In addition to learning a new activity, I’ve met many fellow service members at WFW. Our brotherhood is truly unique! It’s always fascinated me to experience going from complete strangers to having new family members in a matter of hours which creates a lifelong bond.

Matt Hannon

Wake for Warriors saved my life in more ways than one. It’s given me opportunities to experience moments of peace that are so incredibly hard to find, especially when medications make me feel lifeless. I’ve faced many obstacles other than my run in with an IED.  I developed a brain tumor requiring extensive surgery that the doctors said I’d never physically recover from. I’ve tried taking my life 3 times, all to no avail. I’m glad the attempts weren’t successful as I know it’d cause pain to the ones that mean the most to me. Now I want to encourage other veterans. I enjoy riding with Wake for Warriors because it gives me a sense of peace that I don’t encounter any other time. Our Creator, God, has shown me my path in life and it is mind boggling and freeing at the same time. I am here to take my pain and the pain of my brothers from them and immerse myself in it. I only pray I am able to help every brother and sister I can while I’m still breathing. 

As you can see from these first-hand accounts, the veterans are truly blessed by Wake for Warriors and look forward to each and every event. It gives them an escape from their lives at home and adds to their joy. During my stay, I was touched to hear the veterans tell their individual stories of the daunting obstacles they’ve had to overcome. I especially enjoyed witnessing the absolutely incredible abilities of the veterans to shatter physical limitations as they took to the water and defied the odds of their disabilities! I got a chance to try Matt’s wakesurf board and by no means was it easy! Gaining this first hand perspective gave me a glimpse of just how incredible these warriors really are to conquer such amazing feats. Not only do the athletes enjoy being on the water, but I observed how much they enjoyed cheering on and encouraging their fellow military brothers riding behind the boat.

At the end of it all, some were missing limbs and others had a variety of challenges, but one thing’s for sure, despite what most would see as disabilities, they chose to focus on what they can do and learn how to do much more than they ever believed was physically and mentally possible. Everyone was so supportive of their fellow military brothers as they shredded the wake behind 3 beautiful Nautique boats. It was an incredibly memorable weekend these amazing warriors won’t soon forget! There was no shortage of smiles and we had such a blast the whole weekend!

Support Wake for Warriors

Wake for Warriors is an all volunteer, veteran led non-profit organization who thrives on the generous donations of support of people just like you. If you’d like to support this amazing organization, there are several ways to do so. 100% of the proceeds go directly to supporting event costs. These costs include but are not limited to lodging, food, travel, adaptive equipment and more! Through donations Wake for Warriors can fly the veterans out to events to have the time of their lives all at no cost to the veteran.

Read Next: Nautique Partners with Wake for Warriors


Wake for Warriors sponsors
Wake for Warriors has many industry partners. Courtesy Wake for Warriors

Wake for Warriors has many industry partners. Click here for a complete list

Financial donations can be made through their website, venmo, or check. 

All donations are tax deductible.

Wake for Warriors is a 501 (C) 3 non-profit founded in 2012 by veterans to serve veterans. Our focus has, and always will be, on connecting with our riders.  We share in their struggles and celebrate victories on and off the water. WFW is guided by combat veterans that understand the value of camaraderie.