While I myself am no sportsman, a dear friend of our family, John Motoviloff ; is an avid hunter, fisherman and outdoor writer. Many of my happy memories of Madison involve home-cooked, hunted and gathered meals and the ensuing discussions of the meal itself with his lovely family. I can relate to food and where it comes from and have a great appreciation for that now. While I would sadly have to become a vegetarian if I was responsible for the hunting and gathering in my own home- knowing John and his pure appreciation for nature, animals and the world around us has helped me to see that not all hunters are just out there for the joy of shootin’ somethin’ up.
When we lived in St. Louis, Missouri; I had the pleasure of working for a wonderful organization called- The Recreation Council of Greater St. Louis. In my tenure there I had the opportunity to participate in many outings that were arranged to provide recreation and social opportunities for all individuals with developmental disABILITIES. Their mission is to ensure that all people, regardless of ability are aware of and have access to activities and programs of their choice. This is one of the kindest, cleverest and energy-filled groups you could hope to work with. If there is an idea of an activity that someone likes to do- they will help figure out how to give everyone the opportunity. While there, we participated in sailing and bicycling expeditions as well as working closely with the local parks and recreation departments to make sure that the local parks were available and accessible to everyone. They also would assist individuals and families financially to make their recreation hopes and dreams come true with funding for activities and camps of their choice.
It is in the spirit of these two paths in my life that I want to point out another organization that is providing recreation around the country to people with disabilities or critical illnesses. Last week I heard a promotion on the radio for a non-profit organization called United Special Sportsman Alliance. They can be located at http://www.childswish.org. The woman who was describing their organization talked about how they are able to fill a void that is in the scheme of The Make-A-Wish foundation. Make-A-Wish deems hunting and fishing too dangerous of a dream to grant. USSA grants wishes to children who are critically ill or have a disability that are dreaming of the opportunity to try hunting or fishing. They schedule events all over the country where professional hunters and anglers donate their time and their tags to help make these dreams come true. They even described an upcoming bear hunt where people who have waited 10 years for their name to come up in the lottery to get a tag have donated them.
If you know of a child who has an interest in hunting or fishing and hasn’t had the opportunity due to accessibility issues such as the child uses a wheelchair and you aren’t sure how they could get on a boat or out in the woods to hunt- contact this organization to see if they are near you. They have the experience, the equipment and the heart to help! Way to go USSA!