'Shot for Hope' continues to grow
Shot for Hope, a 501 (3C) organization, was formed in March of 2012 by Missy and Eric Steingraber. The Hudson couple, both avid hunters, wanted to give children with disabilities a chance to go on their dream hunt.
It began when Eric’s daughter Cali, who has cerebral palsy, was invited to go on a hunt for disabled children.
“It never crossed my mind that she could fire a weapon much less harvest an animal,” said Eric. “She loved it. The second they are successful it’s all worth it. Prior to that I had taken Cali out in the woods with me, but that was all. I am a hunter through and through.”
Since that first experience Cali has been able to shoot a doe and a spring turkey. It seems her father’s passion for hunting is in her genes.
“Cali was my inspiration for Shot for Hope,” said Eric. “She does not benefit in any way. She is purely the inspiration behind it. I thought why not make the opportunity she had more wide-spread.”
Their first event was in August of 2012 at Game Unlimited in Hudson. It was more or less a dry run. It was a third party fundraiser for United Cerebral Palsy. The turnout for the event was good so Eric and his wife Missy put out the word that they were going to raise money to send a child where ever they wanted to go on a hunt.
“When Eric came to me with the initial idea (of founding Shot for Hope) I thought he was crazy,” said Missy. “It was stressful but it was worth it and the second year we knew what we needed to do.”
“The support from the community, family and friends was unbelievable,” said Eric. “We had magnificent sponsors also.” The first year they had between 100 and 200 people attend the event. Last year it grew to over 400.
It meant their first recipient, Bradley Marcello, was able to go on the hunt of his dreams. The junior at Somerset High School was no stranger to hunting.
“When his friends were taking hunter safety Roger started figuring out how they could equip his chair with gun mounts,” said Lori Gephard, Brad’s mom. “The first year he shot a small buck. It is something he can do. He can participate in the sport, not just be a spectator.”
“Everybody knows Brad. He is an honorary member of the Somerset Fire Department,” said Roger Gebhard, his step-father. “He hunts from a ground blind and can use either a crossbow or a rifle. I just used normal everyday tools to make the adaptations.”
Last fall, Brad went on his dream hunt to pursue a big elk. A company from Savage donated a van for the family to drive to Sugar City, Idaho. It was large enough to take Brad’s Action Track Chair along.
The hunt lasted only one day. It was miserably cold, but after a lunch break, the guides suggested they should go back out. There was one obstacle between Brad and where the herd was, a steep incline.
“When we headed out we were at 7,500 feet and there were a lot of ups and downs,” said Lori.
“The final hill was very steep and Brad was unsure he wanted to take on that challenge,” said Eric. “He did overcome that fear and the track chair was amazing. We crested the hill and the elk were still there.”
Brad was successful. With a shot from 185 yards his elk was down. The hunting party included Brad, Lori, Roger, Eric, two guides and a cameraman. You can watch his hunt at www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjKXiiAM9x4.
“Everything went off seamlessly,” said Roger. The elk’s antlers scored 342 and weighed 1,100 pounds. The family brought home over 300 pounds of meat. A taxidermist volunteered to do the mount and even invited Brad to visit while he was working on it.
“It is a really good opportunity for kids with adaptive needs,” said Lori. “It would be cost prohibitive for a family to do this.”
Missy and Eric are preparing for the 2014 event scheduled for Aug. 2 at Game Unlimited in Hudson. All of the proceeds will go toward giving a child with a life-threatening illness or life-altering disease a hunt of their dreams.
The Shot for Hope event includes a Texas style BBQ, door prizes, raffle items and outdoor sportsmen activities such as 3D archery shoots and sporting clays. The family friendly event includes kids games as well.
Volunteers are welcome. The group meets the last Thursday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at Bill’s Gun Shop and Range in Hudson.
“We are open to people stopping by and more than happy to have help,” said Missy. “It is always going to depend on what we can raise as to what we can do.”
“The last thing I want to do is turn someone away,” said Eric. “For myself, it was never an option for my daughter to hunt but now we have to tools to provide it for others as well. Hunting is a family tradition.”