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Alternative to "Make a Wish" For Hunting Trips of a Lifetime

by Michael Edwards
December 17, 2000

(with substantial content reprinted from www.huntofalifetime.org)

As many sportsmen and sportswomen are aware, about a year ago the Make-A-Wish Foundation stopped permitting hunting trips as a "Trip of a Lifetime" for terminally ill children.

A new organization has formed to allow terminally ill children to have a hunting trip as their trip of a lifetime.  So, if you are looking for a way to redirect your tax-deductible donations for a similar purpose you need to check out www.huntofalifetime.org .

Established as a non-profit organization in August of 1999, Hunt of Lifetime is the brainchild of Tina Pattison of Harborcreek, Pennsylvania. The Mission of Hunt of a Lifetime is to provide terminally ill children and young adults the opportunity to fulfill the hunting or fishing adventure of their dreams.

Tina Pattison's son, Matthew Pattison, had developed cancer (the form called Hodgkin's disease). It was bringing to an end, it seemed, a dream of young Matthew's to go moose hunting in Canada with his father, Chet Pattison. Early chemotherapy had seemingly arrested the disease, but Matt suffered a relapse.

The family had already been dealing with the development of muscular dystrophy in another child, and the realization was that Matthew's dream seemed out of reach, especially considering the potential cost of such a guided hunt.

But Tina Pattison was determined to help Matthew reach his dream. She called the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The voice at the other end of the line stunned Tina Pattison and drove home the inhumanity of the animal rights movement. No, Make-A-Wish told her, they could not help with such a hunt. They had done it once before and received a great deal of harassment from "the animal rights people."

It was that part of the story that brought about the anger. A few years ago the foundation had sponsored a hunt for a severely ill teen. The animal rights movement, a small but vociferous and wealthy segment of our society, mounted a propaganda campaign against the foundation.

When that story spread, hunters responded by donating to Make-A- Wish, with Pennsylvania being one of the leading states in donations. Polite thank you letters were received. It seemed to end there.

But one now has to suppose that the animal rights movement won. Terminally-ill teenagers are denied their dream simply because it is not a wish to go to Disney World nor to meet a famous celebrity. If their wish is a dream hunt of fishing trip, too bad, that's not politically correct.

But the Pattison's were not to be denied. Tina mounted a telephone search for help, which eventually led a Wyoming-based broker of hunting trips to telephone her. Safari Outfitters told Tina they found an outfitter in Alberta, Canada, willing to donate a hunt. The wife of the owner, it seems, had lost an arm to cancer.

The small village in which the Canadian outfitter was based contributed to the effort, and Safari Outfitters supplied the airline tickets. The trip would cost the Pattison family nothing.

Matt, however, took a turn for the worse. A stem-cell transplant was required. It would be a difficult procedure, and the medical advice was to cancel the trip. Matt refused. He told his mother he would not be denied this fulfillment she worked so hard to gain for him.

In the fall of 1998 Matthew went on his dream hunt with his father. And he got his moose, a record book animal. The hunt was featured in a February 1999 issue of the Erie, Pennsylvania Times-News, the major paper in Matthew's home area.

Two months later, in April, Matthew died.

His mother is not about to let his memory die. Determined to never again allow the animal rights movement to deny any family a dream hunt or fishing trip for a terminally ill child, the Pattisons formed an organization called "Hunt Of A Lifetime."

It is a fully licensed charity under Pennsylvania law. An attorney from Erie has donated her legal services. The Erie General Electric Credit Union is the depository for the funds.

Contributions can be mailed to "Hunt Of A Lifetime," 6297 Buffalo Road, Harbor Creek, PA 16421

Make-A-Wish won't do it, so we need to take care of our own. Do this in memory of Matt.

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