Thursday, December 25, 2008
Forestry’s ‘Catch A Dream’ big draw
By SUE WATSON
Over 100 Marshall County Forestry Association supporters turned out at Wall Doxey State Park December 4 to enjoy a meal and help support the Catch A Dream Foundation.
Over 100 items were available in a silent auction and five items were sold at live auction - all proceeds going to the foundation.
Marshall County Forestry Association has supported the program since its inception in year 2000, according to keynote speaker Dr. Marty Brunson, director of the foundation at Mississippi State University.
He praised the association for its forestry work as well as its support of the foundation in prefacing remarks.
“This is like a homecoming for me to come to Marshall County because very early your association started Catch-A-Dream,” he said. “You are by far the most outstanding county association in Mississippi, in my book.”
Brunson’s presentation was interrupted by a loud “Ho Ho” from Jim Crum, impersonating Santa. He handed out L.E.D. lights to over 100 guests, who were happily sated on hot ham and turkey, dressing, sweet potato casserole, green beans and dessert.
Back down to business, Brunson thanked Crum, originally from Benton County, for contributing rubber band guns and bird houses for the auction.
Catch-A-Dream was the idea of Bruce Brady, an outdoorsman, writer, and sculptor who shared his vision with several friends as he was dying with cancer, explained Brunson. Catch-A-Dream is for boys and girls 18 or younger who are battling a life-threatening illness in either the United States or Canada. So far, children in 43 states have been served.
Intended to bridge the gap of the Make-A-Wish Foundation whose national policy precluded giving a child a wish that involved fishing and hunting or use of firearms, hunting bows or other hunting or sport shooting equipment, Brady said children who asked for this wish did not qualify for Make -A-Wish.
“These children need to know that hope does, indeed, exist,” Brady said before his death.
The program was created a few months after his death in 2000. A year later the program was chartered as a non-profit in 2003 and is now administered by Mississippi State University in cooperation with the MSU Extension Service and the Mississippi Wildlife Federation.
The program is for youth with precious little time to lose and gives children with life-threatening illnesses a chance to experience an outdoor adventure of a lifetime, Brunson said.
To date, about 270 children and their families, in five short years of the foundation, have received the outdoor experience they longed for. This year 69 children and their families were served, an all-time high over last year when the program served 43, also a high water mark, Burnson said.
If children qualify for the dream, their wishes are planned for themselves and their families and children get a Christmas tree and presents the first day they arrive on location at the hotel, Brunson said, no matter the time of year.
Everyone eats what the child asked to eat. From that point forward the child gets his or her wishes granted for the kind of experience he or she has asked for. And at the end of the dream, a story board is sent to the child to both tell the story and help cement the memories, Brunson said.
Trace Manning, who was granted his dream almost two years ago, was memorialized during the presentation after Brunson presented a video of Manning thanking Catch-A-Dream for all the program meant to him.
“Catch-A-Dream is like a vacation from being sick,” Manning has said.
It doesn’t hurt when he’s on a Catch-A-Dream trip, he said. When he’s hunting and fishing he doesn’t feel sick.
Tennessee Titans coach Jeff Fisher, moved by Manning’s reflections, was also shown on video.
Fisher said, “It is personal, it is real, it is life, it cuts right through perspective.”
Trace Manning passed away Thursday, Nov. 6, having lived almost two years after his Catch-A-Dream vacation.
Isaiah 40:31 – “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
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