- By Brandon Wikman
Last week, I participated in one of the most enriching outdoor experiences a hunter could ever dream of.
Like many, your first and initial impression may be that I’ve just returned from a successful hunting venture. No, I didn’t. I never boarded a flight into the untapped depths of sacred Alaska in pursuit of caribou. Nor did I step into a boat to partake in a once-in-a-lifetime fishing excursion into the desolate wilderness of Canada. This engaging encounter took place in Wisconsin, in front of no more than 250 people at a small banquet hall – a banquet hall that was at full capacity with hunters awaiting a scrumptious dinner, incredible fellowship, and an evening that outdoor enthusiasts will never forget.
Hunters from across the small communities of northwestern Wisconsin were gathered together for a great cause – raising money to take terminally ill and challenged kids hunting. Creating a chance, building a dream and sharing the blessings of love with those who richly deserve it was what this night was all about.
A genuine man by the name of Jeremy Moore and his magnificent crew assembled an unforgettable charity event to fund deer and bear hunts for kids that aren’t as privileged as you or I. With the help of the USSA, Green Bay Golden Arrow Archery Club and Comet Creek Sanctuary, we were able to launch this second annual charity event.
These kids and their families are consistently struggling to ward off life-threatening illnesses on a daily basis. For some of these inspirational children, hunting has become the only breath of fresh air they will ever take. And for others, it all too often becomes, sadly, their last.
I was truly humbled to have the opportunity to be the spokesperson for the night. The value of this event became apparent once a young girl named Emily took center stage. I introduced the crowd to 17-year old Emily, who battled pulmonary heart failure. Her fragile 70-pound frame weighed down the hearts of all attendees as she cradled the microphone in her palm. She lit a fire of relentless determination in us all the moment her gentle eyes scanned the crowd. Her voice spilled an emotional concoction that choked each and every soul in the building. Emily spoke to everyone in a way that brought hope and joy to all.
She passionately described her adoration for the outdoors and how hunting drives her physically, mentally and emotionally. I stood in awe listening to her words tingle each nerve in my body and passed glances at a proud crowd that dedicated a night built for benefit. Men and women from all around the surrounding Green Bay area were spiritually lifted into a new realm of life.
Jeremy, his crew and partner organizations were able to raise enough money that evening to take the hands of these empowering children and provide them an experience they’ll never forget. It’s times like these that bring each and every one of us back to life’s reality and God’s generous gifts.
There will never be a hunting trip, antlers or fish bigger than the smile I had at the end of the night. There’s no reward, record or prize that will ever top the feeling of knowing you made a positive impact on a child’s life. I am proud to be a hunter. And more importantly, I am honored to be part of a hunting community that leads a life-altering pathway for those who need it most. God Bless you.
Thank you to the USSA, Green Bay Golden Arrow Archery Club, Comet Creek Sanctuary and all of those who made an indescribable impact to our hunting heritage.