LEXINGTON, Ky. — Veterans around central Kentucky visited Lexington for a special fishing trip. 

What You Need To Know

  • Camp Hero is a nature and outdoor therapy-based support group for veterans and first responders 

  • Hundreds of veterans participate in the program

  • It is run by volunteers who have been a part of the program and relies on donations throughout the year

  • Kathleen Kursh-Gray joined the nonprofit Tuesday to fish at Lexington's Jacobson Park

With fish bait at the end of every line, fishing rods were in hands at Lexington's Jacobson Park for a day geared toward those saving lives and serving around the world. 

Kathleen Kursh-Gray is a U.S. Reserve veteran who joined nonprofit Camp Hero to fish at the lake. She was deployed three times over the 38 years she was in the military and is a leader of the National Association for Black Veterans in Oldham County. 

“It's just putting out the information so they know what to ask for and what they may be able to do before they’re older," Kursh-Gray said. "Like I said, I'm a disabled veteran myself.”

Although she has dedicated her life after retirement to connecting with others needing support services, she is supported by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' visual impairment services team (VIST) with programs like Camp Hero.

Camp Hero is Kentucky’s nature-immersed nonprofit supporting veterans and first responders. (Spectrum News 1/Sabriel Metcalf)

Veteran and former officer Rocco Besednjak founded the nonprofit in 2019 after experiencing a series of life-altering moments. In July 2016, when he was a police officer in Shepherdsville, Kentucky, he said he was at a traffic stop and was run over by a wanted felon, causing career-ending spinal injuries.

“I was starting to deal with mental health issues myself," Besednjak said.

Besednjak said he turned to treatment and resources for others facing his situation at the time with no luck. 

He now provides space and tools for the outdoors, helping others recover from physical and mental health challenges

"If you say, 'Hey, you want to go hang out outdoors with a bunch of other vets, the first responders have a good time,' they're all for it," Besednjak said. "But little do they know, they're getting help.”

While it can be tough for some to open up, Besednjak said, he wants to continue providing the necessities for it to happen.