The Sportsman’s Foundation for Military Families

By Katy Fassler

In the middle of the Seminole Indian Reservation lies one of the most famous guided hunting locations. Okeechobee Outfitters, owned and operated by Danny and Carla Santangelo, is the top bucket list item for hunters. Whether hunting for hogs, Osceola turkeys, gators, or other exotic game, Okeechobee Outfitters is the best of the best. The property boasts over 2,000 acres of prime habitat within the 36,000 acres of land. While their reputation is world renown, many people do not know another passion of the Santangelo’s: honoring American veterans and their families.

The Sportsman’s Foundation for Military Families was founded nearly 15 years ago, “I was a volunteer with Wounded Warrior. We donated hunts,” says Danny Santangelo. “I realized we were missing something.” We were missing families, women and children and veterans of the Korean, Persian Gulf and Vietnam War. We realized the war begins the day they say goodbye to their family. That’s when the battle really starts. We honor the women and children back home supporting them.”

One specific hunt is where this need became real. “We had a group of Purple Heart recipients here and Danny was in the woods with one of the soldiers from Wounded Warrior and he seemed really down,” explains Carla Santangelo. “Danny was just trying to cheer him up by talking with him and asked, ‘Everyone calls you a hero but who is your hero?’ The man got teary eyed and said, ‘My wife. I couldn’t have made it through everything I have done without her home taking care of our kids and our home.’”

“When Danny came home and told me that story, he was saying ‘We’re doing it all wrong! We’re separating the families! They should be together!’” We sat down with one our friends who is an attorney and he said we should start our own foundation. We’re doing it.”

“The heart behind this is knowing that a lot of these guys have been through such hard things,” add Carla Santangelo. “It is so close to my heart to serve them, to appreciate them, to show them that we haven’t forgotten all that they gave up doing for our country, for us all to be free. One of my main goals is to share Jesus with them. We don’t push it on them but ask if there are specific things we can be praying for them.”

Danny and Carla Santangelo

“Our U.S. Armed Forces veterans and their families have sacrificed much for our freedom and our way of life. The Sportsman’s Foundation for Military Families (SFMF) was established to honor that sacrifice. Eligible military veteran families are given the opportunity to participate in a professionally guided outdoor adventure. For the veteran family, an SFMF experience is often the trip of a lifetime and is extremely therapeutic for those who could use a helping hand in recovery. It is our humble way of saying “thank you” for your service. The number one best coping skill is the ability to maintain and put forth a positive attitude, especially in the face of adversity. SFMF hunts nurture that attitude and subsequently help combat veteran-hunters cope during the ups and downs of life.”

“We house the families here. They pay nothing,” says Danny. “They hunt and fish and horseback ride. No golf. This is nothing but hunting and fishing. We have 4 to 6 families a month which might have 2 family members with them; they might have ten. It doesn’t matter.”

“We give every family a copy of “A Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren,” adds Carla. “We want to remind them they are not an accident. There really is no answer in this world to the problems we have. You know, we have acupuncturists, we can go to massage therapists, or we can take another pill, but these are all band-aids. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and that is what I share.”

The camp provides cabins of various sizes, including a handicapped cabin, a kitchen where breakfast, lunch, dinner is made and served, a fire pit, as well as the office and guide quarters.

On May 1, 2021, The Sportsman’s Foundation for Military Families hosted the 2nd annual fundraising concert. Four hundred supporters came onto the Okeechobee Outfitters property for a dinner and concert with Craig Morgan and special guest speaker, Mark “Oz” Geist. It was an evening of laughter, tears, and great raffle prizes and an auction all to benefit veteran families. All monies raised is used to give a veteran and his family a vacation of hunting and healing.

Country Music star Craig Morgan, an Army veteran, known for his hits “Almost Home”, “That’s What I Love About Sunday”, and “Redneck Yacht Club” performed on the porch of one of the cabins.

Mark “Oz” Geist, a member of the Annex Security Team that fought in the battle of Benghazi, Libya on September 11-12, 2012, was the special guest speaker. Geist is the co-author of the bestselling book 13 Hours.

For further information, location to donate, or to apply for a hunt, please visit