students adapt van so quadriplegic can go on
By Denise Dick
A fall five years ago left John Karlovic Jr. a quadriplegic, but he also lost the ability to hunt, one of his favorite pastimes.
The Machine Team at Mahoning County Career and Technical Center and some of Karlovic’s family gave it back.
Students in Joe Merritt’s truck and diesel mechanics program built an adaptive technologies trailer that allows Karlovic to enjoy his lifelong hobby again.
They didn’t have much time.
Karlovic is one of five disabled hunters selected to participate this weekend in Derek’s Dream Hunt, a bowhunt, at Deerassic Park in Cambridge, Ohio.
“It really means a lot,” Karlovic said, holding back tears.
Blaise Karlovic, Karlovic’s son and the treasurer of MCCTC and the Mahoning County Educational Service Center, learned about technologies that enable disabled individuals to hunt. He, his mother, Carol, and other family members did some research and then Carol drove to Indiana to pick up the trailer. It was just a small box trailer though.
A friend of John’s who lives in Toledo was supposed to install the equipment, designed to John’s specifications, but that friend got sick and couldn’t do the work.
John asked Blaise if the students might be able to help.
They did the work in about four days, measuring his motorized chair to ensure the correct height, hooking up the electronics, installing solar panels and preparing it for John.
The device allows him to move the weapon, displaying on a television above his head what he sights. Once he has it aimed where he wants, he can fire by biting down on a button inside his mouth.
John is looking forward to it.
“Our whole family hunts,” Carol said.
Blaise said he and his brother grew up hunting with their dad. It was one way they bonded.
John said his father, John Sr., 89, still hunts and John is eager to get back to it.
“They did a good job,” John said of the students. “I really appreciate it.”
Seniors Nathan Gasser of Austintown and Cory Fox of Jackson-Milton and juniors Zach Signor of Canfield and Nick Clark of Leetonia say they were happy to do it.
“If I could help someone else, I wanted to do it,” Nick said.
They completed it in about four days.
Zach, who was the lead technician on the job, said his best guys were on the project.
Zach said he loves hunting and couldn’t imagine not being able to participate in the sport he enjoys.
The project has special significance for Cory, whose great-grandfather was a quadriplegic.
It was gratifying to be able to work on a project to help someone who needs it, Nathan said.
“It makes me feel great,” he said.
Zach said the team loved the work.
“We get a half-hour lunch, and we would go down, eat in about five minutes and then come back early because we wanted to work on it,” he said.