Ill children get dream hunts
Nonprofit exhibiting at Waterfowl Festival fulfills dying children’s outdoor wishes
EASTON — As sportsmen perused the hunting wares and equipment — for both them and their pets — inside the Sportsman’s Pavilion at the Waterfowl Festival over the weekend, one exhibiting foundation tried to get the word out about its work taking terminally ill children on their dream hunt.
Hunt of a Lifetime Foundation is a Pennsylvaniabased nonprofit organization that takes terminally ill children 21 and younger on a trip that foundations like the Make a Wish Foundation won’t — a hunting or fishing adventure.
The nonprofit started in 1999 after the founder’s son passed away from bouts with cancer. Founder Tina Pattison tried to get a wish- granting organization to take her son on his dream big game hunt, but was unsuccessful, and decided to start the organization after his death. However, her son’s wish was fulfilled while alive, thanks to the generosity of an entire town of people in Nordegg, Canada, according to the nonprofit’s website.
“Not every kid wants to go to Disney World when they get sick,” said Vicky Lauer, the northeastern Pennsylvania ambassador for Hunt of a Lifetime Foundation. “There are kids born and bred into hunting. That’s what their families do, and when that could be the last wish that a kid wants, you grant the wish.”
Lauer was exhibiting at the Hunt of a Lifetime
Foundation stand inside the Sportsman’s Pavilion on the Elks Lodge lawn Friday. She has been with the organization for 16 years and
said the nonprofit will grant the wishes of about 1,000 kids all across the country this year.
Lauer said the kids tell the organization what game they want to hunt, and it partners with a professional outfitter, who takes them out. “We even provide a
mount of their animal,” she said. The kids pay for nothing, including airfare, lodging and food, she said.
The wishes aren’t limited to the United States, either, she said. The nonprofit has sent kids to places like Alaska to hunt grizzly bears, Africa for exotic
game, Canada for moose and New Zealand for red stag elk.
Lauer said the hunts aren’t “just about going out and killing an animal, it’s about doing something you’ve dreamed of.” Plus, “this food will sustain their family,” she said.
“They’re (the kids are) amazing and it’s an honor to give them an opportunity that they wouldn’t otherwise,” Lauer said. “Their families are going through a lot, with medical bills and transportation to treatments. This gives them, the kids and the family, a chance to live a normal life for just a few days.”
“It has touched me tremendously. People thank us a lot for what we do, but I thank them (the kids) for what they do for me,” she said, tearing up.
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A view of the table exhibit for the Hunt of a Lifetime Foundation, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit organization that takes terminally ill children on their dream hunts.