Volunteers create ‘truly special’ weekend at area ranch for children facing major life challenges
BOSQUE COUNTY, Texas (KWTX) - The JMB Fishing Foundation, a nonprofit that Jimmy Bennett, of Hallsburg created to help children faced with life-threatening illnesses and other struggles, along with a host of volunteers and local law enforcement officers, hosted the 12 children, their families and some local game wardens over the weekend at Double R Ranch in Bosque County.
“It was a great weekend. We had a lot of tears. The families told us ‘the world had given up on us’ and they said 'through events like this we see we can do things, there are no limitations to what we can do,” Bennett said.
The kids traveled from near and far.
Six came from Missouri, four from the Waco area, one from Burleson and one from Granbury.
Bosque County Game Warden Dayton Isaacs has been a part of the event since it was launched last year.
“I just want to thank all my partners for coming out and helping us,” Isaacs said.
“It means a lot to the families to be able to come.”
The weekend of outdoor fun included everything from firearms safety, to wildlife management and conservation and of course, hunting deer.
The hunts are extra special because the team keeps the children’s needs top of mind.
“We have a little boy who has polyps on his brain. He has never hunted, never shot a deer so we’re excited to see that,” Isaacs said.
“And we have another little boy who got his first deer with us last year and has a limb disability from leukemia.”
An 8-year-old boy named Parker, who traveled from Missouri and uses a wheelchair, is inaudible and has major physical limitations including the use of just one hand and one arm, stole the hearts of everyone there.
His hunt was made even better thanks to a special track chair brought by nonprofit Hope Outdoors, which specializes in helping those with special needs through outdoor experiences such as hunting and fishing at no cost to the participant or their family.
“Hope Outdoors brought out a track chair and a specialized trigger device on the rifle where he squeezed a bulb and it fires the gun,” Isaacs said.
McLennan County Game Warden Michael Serbanic said that chair made something special happen for Parker that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
He harvested six deer.
Serbanic said he’d love to see more chairs like that available to kids like Parker.
“This chair opens up opportunities for kids that don’t have the opportunity to get off the road. Parker has the ability to go through a cornfield if he wants,” Serbanic said.
The game wardens weren’t just there for the hunt.
They led a special ceremony for the kids, pinning them all with badges and making them honorary game wardens.
Hamilton County Game Warden Jim Daniels says it’s a moment he’ll never forget.
“Both years I’ve got to the opportunity to stand in front of all the kiddos and get them all to raise their right hand and ask them to state their name and we talk about conservation law enforcement, about being law abiding citizens in the outdoors but be sure to be safe and have fun,” Daniels said.
The kids spent Thursday through Sunday at the ranch and stayed busy just about around theclock.
They even told a ghost story or two around campfires while cooking s’mores, creating memories, participants, including McLennan County Game Warden Roger Fredricks, say will last a lifetime.
“I got to speak to a couple of the parents and the testimonies that they gave about the experience they get to have with their children out here, it’s pretty amazing,” Fredricks said.
“That the time spent with family in the outdoors that they may not have otherwise had.”
“It was truly special,” Bennett added.
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