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HUNTING Buckmasters keeps granting wishes



Published: Sun, February 24, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



41 critically ill from 18 states got to go on a hunting trip.

MONTGOMERY, Ala.-- For Andrew Webb, a 14-year-old diagnosed with leukemia, a recent dream hunt was a much-wished-for break from hospital tests before a scheduled bone marrow transplant.

Webb was one of 41 hunters from 18 states with uncertain medical futures, whose hunting wishes this past season were granted by Jackie Bushman his 360,000-member Buckmasters association, and his non-profit Buckmasters American Deer Foundation. The BADF Life Hunts, as they are called, also include adults.

One of the hunts was incorporated into the 16th annual Buckmasters Classic, and five of the hunters, including Webb, a lacrosse and baseball player at Red Lion Area Senior school in Brogue, Pa., were invited to participate at Sedgefield Plantation near Selma in south central Alabama.

The celebrities: Four celebrities were invited to join the activities: Jim Thome, first baseman for the Cleveland Indians; country music entertainer Irlene Mandrell; NASCAR's newest Daytona 500 winner, Ward Burton; and comedian Jeff Foxworthy.

The BADF participants weren't the only ones whose dream came true at the Classic. On the celebrity side of the event, Thome brought his nephew, Brandon Thome, to the hunt. Brandon, 16 and a football and baseball player from Washington, Ill., became a paraplegic after a diving accident last June.

He got his first deer since the accident at the Classic. Afterward, his father, Randy, wrote Buckmasters that he wasn't sure that Brandon ever thought he'd take a deer because they were having trouble finding adaptive equipment so Brandon could aim and fire his gun from his wheelchair.

BADF Disabled Hunter Services Director David Sullivan knew of the availability of the needed equipment and put Thome in touch with the manufacturer. Brandon picked up the equipment on his way to the hunt and used it to take an eight-point buck at 200 yards. "Thanks to David Sullivan and the great people at Buckmasters," Randy Thome wrote, "you made a young man's dream come true."

Buckmasters granted its first Life Hunt in 1994 and formalized the BADF program in 1998 after major wish-granting organizations stopped granting children's hunting wishes.

Volunteers needed: The rapidly growing BADF Disabled Hunter Services program and Life Hunts program can use volunteers, Sullivan says. "The two things we need most are lands where disabled hunters may hunt and funding for the program. We need individual and corporate sponsors, and people to start fund raising banquets in their areas through BADF's chapter program."

Donations to the program may be earmarked for the disabled or for the BADF Life Hunts. For information, or to send donations, contact: David Sullivan, National Director, BADF Disabled Hunter Services, P.O. Box 1628, Northport, AL 35476. 205-339-2800. E-mail: Dsullivan@buckmasters.com.




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