By L. Julie Lozinski, TSgtDecember 9, 2011
Chambersburg, PA -- Three children, each diagnosed with life-threatening diseases, participated in Letterkenny's fifth annual Hunt of a Lifetime on Friday, Dec. 2 and Saturday, Dec. 3.
"The kids had a lot of fun, just being in the woods. Even though not all of them harvested a deer, they probably saw 60 bucks," said the Depot's Hunt of a Lifetime coordinator, Craig Kindlin.
One of the hunters, ten-year-old Travis Greenwalt, suffers from Lymphoblastic Leukemia but his illness didn't keep him from harvesting the only deer of the day, a spike.
"It's good just to get away and spend time with my dad," said Greenwalt.
Arianna Evans, 17, was the first female hunter to ever participate in the hunt at Letterkenny and enjoyed her experience at the Depot. Evans has lived with Spinal Bifida since birth and now struggles with Chronic Renal Failure and receives dialysis as she awaits a match for a new kidney.
"It's just nice to get away because you don't have the distractions of everything else and she doesn't have to think about her treatments or anything else going on," said Evans' father, Bill.
Alex Wilkinson, 14, is diagnosed with Friedreich's Ataxia, which has confined him to a wheelchair but has not hindered his love of the outdoors or hunting.
Thirteen LEAD employees gave their time to support the hunt, including Glenn Trego, Letterkenny's Deputy Director of Public Works.
"This isn't volunteering to me and this is a whole lot more than just hunting. This is about being with the kids and letting them do something that other children get to do," said Trego.
Depot volunteers are an integral part of creating a successful hunting experience for the young hunters.
Volunteers also provided necessary equipment such as weapons, ammo and even food for the hunters and volunteers alike.
Donations from organizations also help to make the event successful. Stitely's Meat and Deer Processing of Chambersburg, Pa. processed the harvested deer, the Letterkenny Rod and Gun Club built a permanent hunting blind for hunters that created easier access to deer and two years ago the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington D.C. donated an $11,000 tracked wheelchair to aid participants in the hunt.
"The chair helps get hunters into areas that they typically wouldn't be able to get to in their regular wheelchairs or on crutches but are better places to see and potentially harvest deer," said Kindlin.
Hunt of a Lifetime has been granting hunting wishes for 12 years to children ages 21 and under who have been diagnosed with life-threatening and terminal illnesses.