Hope Outdoors, churches help hunters with disabilities

Hope Outdoors, churches help disabled hunters

COLUMBIA, MS (WDAM) - Woodlawn Church in Columbia hosted its first Hope Outdoors hunting event on Friday.

Hope Outdoors helps people with disabilities get involved with outdoor activities such as hunting.

For Hank Graham, a man who spent his entire life outdoors growing up, he’s getting an extraordinary opportunity.

“I’ve hunted all my life. I’ve hunted fish and I’m just a big outdoors man. I lost my legs three and half years ago. I thought that was the end of it, but its not," said Graham, a Hope Outdoor participant.

Hope Outdoor organizer Brent Pendleton said their efforts are to spread hope for disabled members of their community.

“They’re just so excited. I mean we have hunters that have never been able to get out in the woods and hunt. Our community has just really come together," Pendleton said.

Volunteers from the area offered their guns, vehicles and land to give folks a memory that will last a life time.

“Hope Outdoors has so much equipment," Pendleton said. "We have tank track chairs and we have all kind of shooting devices that will actually allow the hunter to shoot the device without actually holding the device.”

Being around people who struggle with the same battles has inspired many who chose to participate. It was a way to develop special bonds and at the same time learn different ways to overcome their obstacles.

“I’ve already learned so many other things from people in wheelchairs on different ways to get around and different devices that are available, so it’s just an amazing time," Pendleton said.

Graham said hunting again makes him feel empowered. Reconnecting with an element of his life he feared he’d never get back. He said the opportunity is a blessing and it changes his perspective.

“To get out and be out here in the outdoors again, I do it but I do it different and the joy of it you know. Like I said, there’s others worse than I am,” Graham said.

Four churches were part of the effort to bring this idea to life, First Baptist Church Columbia, Life Church, The Church on Main and Woodlawn Church.

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