P I T T S B U R G H, Dec. 15, 2000 -- The Make-A-Wish Foundation has grantedthousands of requests from children with life-threateningillnesses, sending youngsters to Walt Disney World or introducingthem to their favorite pop stars.
But there are some wishes the foundation won’t grant. For thepast 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 metby Make-A-Wish, has arranged several trips, including a safari withrock ‘n’ roll wild man and ardent hunter Ted Nugent.
“Make-A-Wish just makes me want to puke my guts out,” Nugentsaid. “What could be more pure than the last wishes of a youngchild? And to deny that because of political correctness? That’sjust outrageous.”
The Motor City Madman will travel to South Africa in July withZachary Martin, a 16-year-old from Yreka, Calif., with bone cancer.
“Jeez, going hunting in Africa, and with Ted Nugent. It’s beena dream of mine to hunt with him ever since I started watching hisshows,” Zachary said.
Nugent, the singer of “Cat Scratch Fever,” said he and theteenager 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 isno Janet Reno around to stop you. There is nothing more beautifulthan that,” Nugent said this week.
Make-A-Wish has granted 83,000 wishes but put a stop to huntingoutings, said Jim Maggio, a spokesman for the charity.
“It’s a safety concern, basically with exposing the kids andother participants to the potential for danger from a weapon beinghandled by someone who is in a weakened state from alife-threatening disease,” Maggio said.
Animal rights groups had criticized hunting trips arranged byPhoenix-based Make-A-Wish.
“We see something ironic here,” said Heidi Prescott, directorof the Fund for Animals. “They’re teaching a child to kill andcause another living being to suffer at a time when that child, wewould figure, would be empathetic about the quality of life.”
Hunt of a Lifetime was founded by Tina Pattison, a bus driverfrom suburban Erie, Pa., whose stepson, Matt, died last year duringchemotherapy for lymph node cancer.
Before Matt’s death, Pattison tried to raise money to send himhunting — Make-A-Wish still allowed such trips but wouldn’t helpbecause he was too old at 19. The people of the little town ofNordegg in Canada heard his story and raised money for Matt to flyto a hunting camp by helicopter. He shot a moose whose antlers were4½ feet across.
Cash donations made at Matt’s funeral were used to start Hunt ofa Lifetime, which mostly runs on contributions.
Hunting Trips Inspire Some
“Some people said the money ought to go to Make-A-Wish, but Idon’t think that’s what Matt would have wanted because it forbidsthe very thing he was all about — hunting,” Pattison said. “Idon’t want anyone whose child is sick to have to go through theheadaches I did.”
So far, five youths have hunted for free through arrangementsmade by Hunt of a Lifetime. Comedian Jeff Foxworthy will take a20-year-old cancer patient from Delaware deer hunting early nextyear.
Pattison said the Nebraska and North Carolina chapters ofMake-A-Wish agreed to refer young people to her. Nugent, Foxworthyand other hunting guides donate their services.
Christine Manning of Penn Run, Pa., said she watched Hunt of aLifetime work wonders for her 14-year-old son, Andrew, who hadseven operations in seven months this year and grew depressed witha 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 seenhim shoot down out of that tree,” she said. “He ran to the animalon pure adrenaline, I guess.”