When we first started Youth Outdoors Unlimited, Y.O.U. it was a passion for hunting and fishing and a desire to share this great world with youth that we considered less fortunate. This shortly became so far from the truth as these families and kids quickly taught us. These kids and their families do not consider themselves less fortunate but very fortunate and have a real desire to help others who are less fortunate than them. Boy were we surprised at what we would learn over the coming year.
Shortly before our late archery hunting season I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Mike Macko with A Hunt Above . The youth that I first read about from Mike and his group was a boy named Nick who was born with no legs, one arm and on the one arm he had one finger. One finger was enough to pull the trigger on his rifle which harvested a beautiful 3 pt buck.
I was so touched by this story and with my new found passion for big game hunting I let my husband and hunting partners know that I wanted to start an organization to take youth like Nick on hunting and fishing trips. These inspiring kids should be able to experience the ultimate thrill of hunting (regardless of a harvest) just as I was . Of course my husband Joe, Don and Chris and Curt were all in. Immediately we started contacting Private Land Owners for permission to bring our youth hunting on their property. We have been blessed thanks to Wilson Creek residents, Tom and Cheryl Kammerzell of Maple K Farms and landowners in Spokane, WA
I consulted with Mike when we got home from deer camp and he gave me our list of things we would need to do. We would need an attorney and become incorporated and get our 501(c)3 status. So that's exactly what we did. Of course we didn't have any money so we had to get all of our services donated. We gathered a group of directors, established a mission and moved forward. Thanks to the donated services of our attorney and our website designers Heidi and Jason Backus we started looking for our first youth. And then we were blessed. Don called us and told us he'd found our first youth! First thing, we got him enrolled in Hunter's Ed.
Because of Spencer's Spina Bifada we immediately contacted the Seattle Spina Bifida Association to let them know we were looking for more kids. What a thrill to get a call from Nicole Williamson and her son Mikey.
He had a real interest in hunting from watching the Outdoor Channel and his mom was looking for an organization to guide him through the process. She was thrilled to hear of us and we were thrilled for our next youth. Of course we asked them to immediately enroll Mikey in Hunters Ed. This really lets us know which kids are capable and ready for hunting and which ones aren't.
Mikey is smart as a whip and also passed his Hunter's Ed test with flying colors. Mikey is not 100% restricted to his wheelchair and walks with the aid of crutches. He plays Quad Rugby, Skis and any other sport he can get his hands on. He does have a unique challenge because he is missing parts of his fingers on each hand. (Again, part of the side effects of youth born with Spina Bifida). With the creativeness from the team of guys at Red Dawn Tactical we began a gun stock modification specifically fit for Mikey's hands.
Chad and his crew measured, sketched and went back to their shop with this specific mission in mind. With a 9 inch gun stock and a specially built thumb rest Mikey was very successful at our last training session. We so enjoy Mikey's humor and his desire to be the best. Because of Mikey's Hunter's Ed class we met Justin!
Justin is a healthy 11 year old boy who was born without his right arm. His dad and grandpa have always had a passion for hunting and were excited to have our help to teach him how to handle a firearm safely and confidently in spite of the missing of a limb. Justin is a perfectionist! Since he has never had a right arm he has learned to do everything without it including playing Guitar Hero on expert with his left hand and right foot! Do you think that's weird - we think its AWESOME!!! If you've ever play Guitar Hero it's not easy and he Rocks, literally.
Have these kids inspired you yet? We're not done. We just accepted our next youth from Eolia, MO. Zack Winkle is a 13 year old boy born with Muscular Dystrophy. Although Zack is confined to his wheelchair he is a straight A student and let us know that if he gets his deer next year that he would like to donate the meat to someone less fortunate than him. Wow! We will be flying Zack and his two parents to WA for the next fall buck hunting season.
People are trying to be encouraging and tell us what a great job we are doing. Although we appreciate the encouragement we are not doing anything special, we are the blessed ones. The fact that these families would share their amazing gifts with us and all of you will change our lives forever and hopefully yours. Please look past a person's disability or an illness, get to know them, ask their story. These kids are not Disabled but Differently Abled. When you find out what they can do it will definitely put perspective in your life.
Thanks for letting us share and we can't wait to share more. Follow Spencer, Mikey and Justin's fall hunts on our website . You can also follow us on facebook where we post lots of pictures. Spencer's mom has been doing special blog posting from a mom's point of view. It is a must read!
Want to help? Shoot me an email anytime at email@example.com - there are lots of ways to help and it doesn't all revolve around giving money. Since we started this journey we have been blessed to connect with additional landowners who have since offered land for Turkey hunts, guided hunts from Alan Fowles of TrophyCreek , guided fishing trips and it continues to grow.
Mission Statement - Youth Outdoors Unlimited, Y.O.U. is a Central Washington based 501(c)3 non-profit corporation organized to take youth who have been diagnosed with a life threatening illness or physical disability and who have a DREAM WISH to hunt or fish on their own outdoor adventure.
Y.O.U. Fully funds all expenses associated with these trips including getting our kids outfitted from head to toe, cutting and wrapping of any meat harvested on a hunt, taxidermy, if desired, and video and pictures associated with their trips. We do not want these families to have to spend a dime for their youth to enjoy the great world of hunting and fishing as most of them already have enough medical expenses. All trips include travel, food and lodging for a youth and two parents or guardians. More information available on our website .
Thanks for listening. We love to brag about these kids and can't wait for the next gift.
Cindy, Joe, Don, Curt and Chris