Project Healing Waters Founder Honored with Purpose Prize

Project Healing Waters is proud to announce that its founder, Capt. Edwin P. Nicholson, USN (ret.), has been selected as a 2013 Purpose Prize winner MacArthur genius award, which honors “people who develop a second career as social service entrepreneurs.”

Read more in the press release below. honors Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing founder on Veteran’s Day.

From: Project Healing Waters

Ed Nicholson Selected as a 2013 Purpose Prize Winner. The Purpose Prize has become a “MacArthur genius award for people who develop a second career as social service entrepreneurs.” – The New York Times.

LaPlata, MD–Capt. Edwin P. Nicholson, USN (ret.), Founder and President of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, has been selected as a 2013 Purpose Prize winner. He is one of seven winners chosen by, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting people who translate decades of skill and experience into “second acts” that contribute to society’s greater good.

Nicholson, a resident of Port Tobacco, MD, mentors disabled veterans, healing the physical and emotional wounds of battle through the power of relationships and the great outdoors. A cancer survivor and war veteran himself, Nicholson was impressed by the fortitude of disabled veterans at the Walter Reed military hospital, where he was treated for prostate cancer in 2005. It spurred him to found Project Healing Waters, a program dedicated to helping disabled active duty military members and veterans recover from the trying aftermath of war through the sport of fly-fishing.Nicholson_GeniusAward

Founded in 2005, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. (PHWFF) is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings.

One-on-one connections have been key to Project Healing Waters’ approach since the beginning. Nicholson knew there were fly-fishing groups and facilities all over the country. His innovation was to convince them to start, manage and lead fly-fishing instruction and outings with veterans through military and Veterans Administration (VA) facilities. The quiet bonds forged over fishing lines between veterans began to transform lives. Again and again Nicholson heard from family members who said their loved ones had returned from war withdrawn, angry, and difficult to be around. But after fly-fishing with Project Healing Waters, they’ve become happier, more open and engaged.

Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, works closely with Veterans Administration staff to identify disabled service members and veterans who would most benefit from the program. Many are in wheelchairs or using prosthetics. A few are blind. Participants reflect the full spectrum of disabled veterans and include all ages, genders, ethnicities and disabilities. Nicholson says the impact “goes well beyond the mechanics of fly-fishing.”

Nicholson was raised in Wadsworth, OH and is a 1964 graduate of the University of North Carolina. He was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy (R) upon graduation, then transitioned to the regular Navy where he served for thirty years before retiring with the rank of Captain in 1994. Nicholson served as Indian Head Base Commander from 1989-1992. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing is a registered 501(c)(3) non profit organization incorporated in the state of Maryland and headquartered in Charles County, MD.

The Purpose Prize winners will be honored on December 5, 2013, at an awards ceremony in Sausalito, Ca. NBC’s Jane Pauley will emcee the event for hundreds of Encore leaders and the Purpose Prize winners.

Twenty-one judges – leaders in business, politics, journalism and the nonprofit sector – chose the seven winners from a pool of more than 1,000 nominees. Judges include Sherry Lansing, former CEO of Paramount; David Bornstein, author and New York Times columnist; Eric Liu, writer and founder of Citizen University; and Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies, the John Templeton Foundation, and Symetra, The Purpose Prize is a program of, which aims to engage millions of boomers in encore careers combining personal meaning, continued income and social impact in the second half of life.

“While Purpose Prize winners are helping to solve a wide range of pressing social problems, they have one thing in common,” said Marc Freedman, CEO and founder of and author of The Big Shift (PublicAffairs Books). “They – and millions of others in encore careers – are turning personal passions and decades of experience into invaluable contributions across sectors, continents and generations, often through entrepreneurship.”

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