Rural Missouri - December 2012 - (Page 14)

O U T D O O R S Pursuing Dreams Hunting & fishing dreams are coming true for kids with life-threatening illnesses wishes and dreams of children battling cancer and other diseases, not all groups provide hunting and fishing trips. The ith his quarry in the crosshairs, HuntMake-A-Wish Foundation, for er Hoxworth took a calming breath, example, ceased granting huntflipped off his safety and waited for ing trips in 1999. Other groups the signal. — such as Hunt Of A Lifetime After spotting and stalking deer all day, his huntand the Catch-A-Dream Foundaing party finally had closed the distance to 109 tion — have helped fill the void yards, and now before them stood a trophy red stag. in subsequent years, but Rick felt It was time for the 10-year-old to do what he had there was need for another orgabeen dreaming about. nization that would offer hunt“Go ahead,” whispered Rick Davis, but the rifle’s ing and fishing adventures. report drowned out his words as Hunter squeezed Dream Pursuit covers all off the round. The stag never took a step, but instead expenses associated with an crumpled lifelessly to the ground. adventure for both parAmid hugs and high-fives, boy apticipants and their families, proached beast. He knelt down beside from travel and lodging the massive deer, touching its hide and expenses to trophy fees running his fingers up and down the and taxidermy costs. beams of the gnarled antlers. Any U.S. citizen 21 Here in the Ozark hills — with a crisp or younger who fall breeze blowing and the sun shining Sikeston • hasn’t been granted brightly in a cloudless sky — Hunter’s biganother hunting or game dreams came true. fishing wish is eligiThe scene is far removed from the hosble. “And the disease need not be pital beds, doctors and painful treatments that were a terminal illness, but simply life his reality just a couple years ago. On this day in this Hunter Hoxworth, a 10-year-old from Jackson, poses with the trophy red stag threatening,” Rick explains. “We valley, cancer is the last thing on his mind. he shot on a Dream Pursuit hunt at Piney Ridge Ranch east of Winona. After didn’t want to exclude anyone Hunter’s trip was the latest adventure made posbattling acute myeloid leukemia since 2009, Hunter is now in remission. who’s fighting and has a dream. sible by Dream Pursuit, a nonprofit public charity Even if you’re in remission, once based in Sikeston. Organized in 2008, the group a cancer patient, always a cancer patient.” seeks to provide hunting and fishing trips to chilRick says the biggest challenges for the fledgling Just three years ago, then-7-year-old Hunter was dren and young adults who have been diagnosed group have been fundraising and getting out the diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, an aggreswith life-threatening illnesses. word. “We’ve had great support from groups like the sive cancer of the blood. He underwent six courses “We take these kids and the situations that Perry County Sportsman Club, local taxidermists of chemotherapy at St. Jude Children’s Research they’re in and provide them a positive, family atand lodges,” he says. “Mossy Oak came on board Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., where the family lived mosphere where they can get away from the poking, this year to sponsor the camo for the kids, but we for six months. the prodding and all that,” says Rick, founder and have people in our own backyard that don’t even “The chemo was hard on him,” says Hunter’s president of the organization. “We offer them the know we’re here. We’re working on that.” mom, Caroline, who lives in Jackson. “He lost all of opportunity to experience a dream hunt or dream Marvin and Debbie Francis, owners of Piney his hair, his eyelashes, his fingernails, his toenails. fishing trip — something they’ve dreamed about but Ridge Ranch outside of Winona, hosted both Dream He weighed 76 pounds when he got sick. When never been able to do either because of their illness Pursuit adventures this year. Marvin says it’s their we finally got to bring him home, he weighed 39 or limited financial capabilities of the family.” way of giving back for all those who have helped pounds. We’re glad those days are behind us. They Rick, a 52-year-old father of three from Sikeston, their family in the past. were rough.” created Dream Pursuit in memory of a good friend, “These folks are kind of stuck with having to take Hunter’s dad, Eric, a Black River Electric CooperaDustan Heaton, who lost his battle with cancer in what comes their way,” says the Howell-Oregon tive member from Oak Ridge, recalls the first ques2002. He was only 20. Electric Cooperative member. “Doing this, it’s our tion Hunter asked him as his son lay in the hospital While battling the disease, Dustan wanted to way of saying thank you. We know what these parbed in Memphis. go hunting for white-tailed deer. After undergoing ents have to go through when they have youngsters “He asked me, ‘Am I going to die?’” Eric says. rigorous chemotherapy — and with his cancer in that are facing critical situations.” “How do you answer that? Don’t think too much remission — Dustan’s wish was granted by an orgaFor the Hoxworths, the Dream Pursuit weekend and just answer it very quickly and honestly. We nization that arranged a hunt at a ranch in Texas. was more than a hunting trip. It allowed them to were very honest with him and told him up front Dustan harvested a trophy buck, and when the cancount their blessings and simply be a family. “It’s what was going to happen.” cer returned, the memories of the hunt helped carry been just amazing,” says Caroline. “We’re so thankWith a compromised immune system, Hunter him through until the end. ful that Hunter is healthy and here to enjoy this.” — who loves being outdoors, playing baseball Several months after Dustan died, Rick visited For Rick, watching dreams come true is the and hunting ducks with his dad — found himself the Texas ranch with Kelly Heaton, Dustan’s father. ultimate reward. “At the end of the day, when you trapped inside while fighting leukemia. Now in The men listened as the ranch owner recounted the can sit there and see the smiles on these kids’ faces, remission, the opportunity for a Dream Pursuit adevents of Dustan’s dream hunt. there’s no better feeling,” he says. “You just have to venture was just the medicine Hunter needed. “It was obvious the experience had made a great thank the good Lord above.” Since the fall of 2009, Dream Pursuit has arranged impression on him,” says Rick, a member of SEMO seven adventures, including white-tailed deer hunts Electric Cooperative. “I knew then I wanted to be a For more information about referring a candidate in Missouri and New York, a Gulf fishing trip in Florpart of something like that, to help these kids live for an adventure or to contribute to Dream Pursuit, call ida and red stag hunts in Missouri. All participants their dreams.” 573-421-5580, visit www.dreampursuit.org or write to: receive a DVD that recounts their entire experience. While many organizations exist to grant the Dream Pursuit, P.O. Box 888, Dexter, MO 63841. W by Jason Jenkins jjenkins@ruralmissouri.coop 14 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://www.dreampursuit.org http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - December 2012

Rural Missouri - December 2012
Table of Contents
Comments
Columns
Faith in fruitcakes
Best of rural Missouri
Pursuing dreams
Outdoors
Out of the Way Eats
Beauty from math and metal
Spreading the Masonic message
Hearth and Home
Rooted in Missouri
Marketplace
Around Missouri
Neighbors
Just4Kids

Rural Missouri - December 2012

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