It all started when Tyson Willoughby, Hunt/Shoot National Account Manager, got a call from a hunting buddy. His friend, Bob Fry received a last-minute request from the Hope Outdoors organization for his assistance. Why Bob? Bob owns and manages DuckHorn Outdoor Adventures (DOA). DuckHorn’s mission is to offer outstanding programs such as gun safety, shooting instruction, trap shooting, target shooting, upland pheasant and waterfowl hunts. They offer programs to two main groups – beginner outdoor enthusiasts; veterans and first responders – all at no charge to the participants. And that’s why Bob got the call from Hope Outdoors who reached out to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Back to Hope Outdoors and Make-A-Wish
Bob tells the story best. Here are excerpts from his memo to Tyson.
Last week I spoke to you about an event that was to be held at DuckHorn Outdoors Adventures the weekend of November 19-22 celebrating the life of Steele Kirwin. Steele is a 17-year-old that has been battling a very aggressive form of cancer that has required extensive surgeries, reconstructions and treatments. When offered a trip to Disneyland from the “Make-A-Wish Foundation,” Steele said, “I would prefer to give that opportunity to a younger, terminally ill individual, but I have always wanted to do a pheasant/duck hunt with my dad.”
DOA and the Missouri local Chapter of Hope Outdoors, collaborated to grant his wish. The guest list expanded to include Steele, his mom and dad, his two sisters and his girlfriend.
A limousine was arranged to pick up the family from Kansas City International Airport for transporting the family to DuckHorn Lodge. Bates County Sheriff, Chad Anderson, arranged an 11-vehicle escort through Bates County with lights flashing, lighting the path to Urich, MO and on to the Lodge! Nine of the 11 deputies were off-duty and volunteered their time to make this a special event for the Kirwin family. We could see them coming from three miles away. The arrival of this motorcade gave us goosebumps and tears!
While the Kirwin ladies were treated to a shopping and spa trip on Saturday, Steele and his dad had a tremendous amount of fun in the duck blinds sharing stories with the DuckHorn volunteers while harvesting many ducks. DOA added a pheasant hunt to be sure that Steele’s “full” wish would come true.
We at DOA benefited as much or more from this experience than Steele and his family. The joy on Steele’s face, the family conversations around the campfire, and the family’s palpable release from the daily trials and tribulations associated with Steele’s affliction were humbling and heart-lifting for all of us! DOA, Hope Outdoors and the Kirwins became one in making the weekend special for Steele.
DOA and Hope Outdoors were thrilled we could help fulfill Steele’s wish. The Kirwin family knows they now have a new family in Missouri that are praying for them. This is one of the major thrusts of the DOA Mission, making a difference in the lives of those in need through outdoor activities.
You and Bushnell stepped up to make this event so special for Steele, with your generous donation of a spotting scope and seven binoculars. Without your help, we could not dream big or fulfill the particular dreams of individuals like Steele.
BOTTOM LINE: This was one of the most important events in DOA’s history. We hope to do more!