Growing up, I learned to respect the water and always wear a PFD (personal flotation device). It was ingrained in my memory to never step foot on the water without wearing one. I knew how important a PFD was, but would I ever actually need it?
On January 14th, 2017, roughly two miles down the Flint River in Bainbridge, GA, during a college bass fishing tournament, my hydraulic steering came completely apart. The mechanical ejected my partner Connor and me from the boat at 55 mph. At that moment, I truly realized a Mustang Survival PFD could and will save lives. We are truly blessed to be here still.
What does Mustang Survival mean to me? The short answer is – my life.
I knew I wanted to help make boating safety 'cool,' but how? Shortly after my accident, I filmed a PSA with the National Safe Boating Council on the importance of wearing a PFD anytime you're recreating on the water. My story began to gain traction, so I developed a plan to travel the country sharing my Survival Story and fishing the Bassmaster Opens.
I knew I wasn't going to be able to do this on my own. I am only one voice, but collectively we can make a change. Mustang Survival has given me a platform to learn, share, and promote the importance of wearing a PFD anytime we are on the water. I wanted to showcase to the world how quickly things can change. No matter how long someone has been boating, they can't control the unexpected but can certainly prepare for it. One thing I've learned is that we are not invincible. Simple preparations such as making sure a PFD fits properly make all the difference.
One day while speaking in Wisconsin, a man approached me with tears rolling down his face. He explained how he never habitually wore a PFD, but he and his entire family will forever wear them because of my story. Moments like these remind me how important every late night, every mile drove, and every hour away from home truly are.
Whether someone enjoys a sunset cruise paddle boarding with their dog, kayaking down their favorite river, or experiencing a fishing trip of a lifetime with family, we all love to recreate on the water. The water unites us, but collectively there's nothing we love more than returning home safely. Thankfully Mustang Survival has our back every step of the way, no matter the adventure.
Without a platform, my story would have minimal impact, and without a PFD, I wouldn't be here to tell it. From the very beginning, Mustang stood behind a 21-year-old kid with a dream to make the waterways a safer place. One life saved turned into an opportunity to share my testimony with thousands. For that, I'm forever grateful. #WEARIT
Learn more about Hunter Bland