Officials in the Pheasants Forever Chapter 630 are hard at work fundraising to create an endowment for assisting in this year's Youth Outdoor Adventure scheduled for Sept. 16-18.
"It all started with a dream to take local terminally ill or permanently disabled youth on outdoor adventures," said Jane Bryndel, a Pheasants Forever Chapter 630 member and treasurer also charged with publicity responsibilities.
"We feel we are ready for our first event this September. These events will be a unique experience to the selectee, and will provide a fulfilling and memorable experience to the family."
Applications are available by contacting Bryndel at (814) 772-4604 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .
"We need to have applications returned by July 15," Bryndel said. "Our committee will then review all blind applications and make our selection(s) based on the complete application, applicants' needs, as well as our limited resources."
Depending on the individual(s) selected, the outing could include safety training, pheasants and chukkar hunting, ATV rides, hiking, trap shooting, food for the morning, noon and night, bird mount, a night's stay at the Queenstown Lodge, photos to hold the memory and gear as needed.
As the youth outdoor fund was established in 2009, Bryndel said the Pheasant Forever Youth Outdoor Fund will be successful through the help of various organizations working together.
"The sponsor donations are invested in coordination with the Elk County Community Foundation [ECCF]," Bryndel said. "The ECCF will advertise for referral applications of youth in the Elk County and surrounding areas.
"Qualifications will include youth under 21 years old with a terminal illness or permanent disability."
The applications must be accompanied by a letter from a physician on letterhead or prescription pad, stating the youngster's name as a patient, type of life-threatening illness and that it is life-threatening or the severely limiting disability.
"On receipt of the applications, a selection committee made up of Pheasants Forever Chapter 630 members will screen and select applicants," Bryndel said. "There is no guarantee of selection. The number of participants will depend on available funds.
"Priority of selection will be towards those applicants with life-threatening situations as certified by a physician."
The next steps will vary depending on the urgency of the application.
"Various hunting, fishing, or other suitable and available outdoor event or activity will be included as requested," Bryndel said. "Hunting seasons and physical limitations will also define the individualized plan for the outdoor experience.
"These options will also change as we get more organization on board to work with the children."
The original plan is to only provide experiences in the local and western Pennsylvania area.
There will be food, lodging, and travel for up to a three-day trip for the participant(s) and parent(s) or guardian(s) not to exceed two adults. Photography, video, and taxidermy may be provided under limited terms.
The outdoor experience may also provide the processing of a trophy, shipping fees and assistance in locating needed gear and equipment for the outing," Bryndel said. "We hope that we can encourage local bird farms, outfitters and hunting stores to make donations as needed."
Active individuals involved with the overall project include Aaron Bleggi, funding the endowment, and Dick Bodenhorn, president of the local Pheasants Forever Chapter 630 who initially conjured up the overall idea to have the adventure.
"As a Pennsylvania Gaming Conservation officer, Dick [Bodenhorn] can see the need to a project like this," Bryndel said.
Other individuals include Leon Blashock who has worked with the local Pheasants Forever chapter's youth programs for over 10 years and started the annual fall Mentored Youth Hunt; and Tim Rowan, new to Pheasants Forever but the new chairman of the Mentored Youth Hunt.