The Make-A-Wish Foundation has granted thousands of requests from children with life-threatening illnesses, sending youngsters to Walt Disney World or introducing them to their favorite pop stars.
But there are some wishes the foundation won’t grant. For the past year, Make-A-Wish has refused to arrange hunting trips.
That’s where Hunt of a Lifetime has come in.
The organization, formed to grant hunting requests no longer met by Make-A-Wish, has arranged several trips, including a safari with rock ‘n’ roll wild man and ardent hunter Ted Nugent.
“Make-A-Wish just makes me want to puke my guts out,” Nugent said. “What could be more pure than the last wishes of a young child? And to deny that because of political correctness? That’s just outrageous.”
The Motor City Madman will travel to South Africa in July with Zachary Martin, a 16-year-old from Yreka, Calif., with bone cancer.
“Jeez, going hunting in Africa, and with Ted Nugent. It’s been a dream of mine to hunt with him ever since I started watching his shows,” Zachary said.
Nugent, the singer of “Cat Scratch Fever,” said he and the teenager will go bowhunting for zebra, warthogs and impalas.
Denial Linked to Safety Concerns
“Let me tell you, when you go hunting with Ted Nugent, there is no Janet Reno around to stop you. There is nothing more beautiful than that,” Nugent said this week.
Make-A-Wish has granted 83,000 wishes but put a stop to hunting outings, said Jim Maggio, a spokesman for the charity.
“It’s a safety concern, basically with exposing the kids and other participants to the potential for danger from a weapon being handled by someone who is in a weakened state from a life-threatening disease,” Maggio said.
Animal rights groups had criticized hunting trips arranged by Phoenix-based Make-A-Wish.
“We see something ironic here,” said Heidi Prescott, director of the Fund for Animals. “They’re teaching a child to kill and cause another living being to suffer at a time when that child, we would figure, would be empathetic about the quality of life.”
Hunt of a Lifetime was founded by Tina Pattison, a bus driver from suburban Erie, Pa., whose stepson, Matt, died last year during chemotherapy for lymph node cancer.
Before Matt’s death, Pattison tried to raise money to send him hunting — Make-A-Wish still allowed such trips but wouldn’t help because he was too old at 19. The people of the little town of Nordegg in Canada heard his story and raised money for Matt to fly to a hunting camp by helicopter. He shot a moose whose antlers were 4½ feet across.
Cash donations made at Matt’s funeral were used to start Hunt of a Lifetime, which mostly runs on contributions.
Hunting Trips Inspire Some
“Some people said the money ought to go to Make-A-Wish, but I don’t think that’s what Matt would have wanted because it forbids the very thing he was all about — hunting,” Pattison said. “I don’t want anyone whose child is sick to have to go through the headaches I did.”
So far, five youths have hunted for free through arrangements made by Hunt of a Lifetime. Comedian Jeff Foxworthy will take a 20-year-old cancer patient from Delaware deer hunting early next year.
Pattison said the Nebraska and North Carolina chapters of Make-A-Wish agreed to refer young people to her. Nugent, Foxworthy and other hunting guides donate their services.
Christine Manning of Penn Run, Pa., said she watched Hunt of a Lifetime work wonders for her 14-year-old son, Andrew, who had seven operations in seven months this year and grew depressed with a disease that makes blood vessels grow rapidly in his right thigh. Last month, Andrew shot a 700-pound bull elk.
“He had been immobile on the couch, and you should have seen him shoot down out of that tree,” she said. “He ran to the animal on pure adrenaline, I guess.”