Jerry Steven’s Jr.
Young Jerry Steven's Jr. from Port Huron MI suffers from Muscular Dystrophy. This young man just wanted to go hunting but physical abilities prevented this from happening for the most part...until he found Benefit4Kids!
About 3 months ago my daughter Sheila called and told me to expect a call from someone she and her future husband had just met. In reality it was a friend of that person who called. His name was Jerry Stevens and he had a son named Jerry “JJ” who suffered from Muscular Dystrophy. We talked for quite some time before he finally asked me the question he feared the answer to, “was there any way we could take Jerry hunting”?
Jerry told me that JJ had always wanted to go hunting but his wheelchair and condition had always prevented it other than some video games. Jerry explained JJ’s condition to me. He also told me about an upcoming life threatening operation JJ would be facing soon and said that even if we could just get him in the woods and just let JJ be there to help hold a gun it would be “so cool for JJ”.
HAH I said. Not a chance. No way would we put JJ out in the woods while someone else shot his dream animal. I told Jerry we’d make sure that JJ got the chance to shoot his own animal and told him to talk with JJ about what he wanted to hunt while I made some calls.
My first and most important call was to Jim Reifert cause I KNEW if there was anyone who could build what we needed it would be Jim. I explained to him what was on my mind and if I remember his exact words they went something like “don’t worry about it Bro, I’ll have something set up in no time”. Knowing Jim as I do I didn’t worry about the “wheelie gun rest” again.
I talked again with Jerry and he told me JJ didn’t care what he hunted, he just “wanted to go hunting”. So back to the phone I went. I had a whitetail hunt all set up for when Ma Nature stepped in and dumped over 18” of snow on the ranch we were taking him to. Now I got to tell you I love ole Ma Nature as much as anyone but she kind of pee’d me off on that one. Now what?
I spoke with Al Baggett and he told me about a place near where JJ lived that offered some pretty cool hunts and gave me the number. One phone call later it was “Game On” again. JJ’s hunt was set for Dec. 26th and he would be hunting one of his favorite critters the majestic Red Stag. To quote Jerry when he told me about JJ’s excitement upon hearing the news was “he’s electric”.
The night before JJ’s hunt was pretty well sleepless for all of us as the anticipation set in. My nerves were on edge as the weather hadn’t been too good and we had gotten allot of rain on Christmas day. That combined with the fact that I’m a worrywart when it comes to our wish kids had me up well before daylight. Soon it was time to meet Jim, Jerry and JJ at the restaurant for our breakfast. To my surprise JJ’s Mom came along, as did Jim’s daughter Beth who we soon found out goes to school with JJ.
After breakfast we headed over to the ranch where we were met by Thingy the owner and a few of his helpers. You could tell they were a little nervous about the whole deal until they saw the enthusiasm in JJ and watched as Jim set up JJ’s “wheelie gun rest”. Once Jim made some final adjustments to the rest we headed out in the snow after JJ’s stag.
I told JJ he needed to get some snow tires on his rig before our next hunt but it wasn’t long before we found ourselves with 2 nice stags and a group of does. The wind was in our favor so we quickly set up in the hopes of getting JJ a shot, as the going was rough in the mud and snow. One of the stags noticed some of our movement and slowly started moving to our left to try and wind us. He knew something was up but wasn’t sure just what. He’d soon find out.
As the stag slowly circled us JJ positioned himself in his chair moving it ever so slightly with his controls waiting for a clear shot. The anticipation was driving me nuts. Suddenly there was a thunderous BOOM and the stag stumbled but didn’t go down. I was amazed as I saw where the bullet hit and felt any animal would have gone down instantly with a hit like that. In the excitement JJ wasn’t sure he had hit it. After some assurance that he did we watch the stag for only a moment or two when he started to stagger and then went down. At 60 yards the young boy in the chair had taken out both lungs and the hunt of his dreams was fulfilled.
Shortly we were back at the lodge slapping high fives, laughing, joking and retelling the story. When JJ let out his WOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOO we all smiled the kind of smile you only get from someone else’s happiness. Every now and then a grown man would quietly step off by himself as tears fell in thanks for allowing us to be a part of such a wonderful moment for JJ.
We all know what faces JJ in the near future with his surgery but if any kid can pull it off its’ JJ. His spirit, his enthusiasm, his infectious smile and his love of life is something each and every one of us can learn from. He’s shown us all that with a little help and a little love anything is possible. I am a better man for knowing him and a richer man for being his friend. Thanks for helping Benefit4Kids help kids like JJ.