Outdoor Buddies Helps Disabled Sportsmen

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If the efforts of a newly-formed Kansas Chapter of Outdoor Buddies has its way, disabled Kansas sportsmen and women will have more opportunities to pursue hunting and fishing again. An offshoot of an organization formed in Colorado in 1984, Outdoor Buddies of Kansas has been formed to help the disabled pursue the outdoor sports.

The inspiration for Kansas Outdoor Buddies came from Kingman resident Merle Heldenbrand when he helped a paralyzed friend, Don Young, on a Colorado elk hunt sponsored by the Colorado chapter. Young died in January of 2002, but the joy he expressed during that Colorado hunt inspired Heldenbrand to organize a group in Kansas. The concept of Outdoor Buddies is unusual in that no fees, dues, or organizational costs are placed on the participants. They need only meet their personal expenses, and in many cases, they may receive help with these.

The newly-formed Kansas Outdoor Buddies chapter will be supported by donations from individuals, sportsmen's groups, corporations, and fund raising events. (On March 8-9, the group will conduct a Don Young Memorial Pheasant Hunt at Bluestem Hunting Preserve as a fundraiser. For more information, phone (620) 532-2425.) In the future, the group will organize disabled hunting and fishing events. They will provide able-bodied, experienced companions to the disabled hunter or angler on a one-on-one basis. For each of these events, the group will also provide the following:

  • locations to pursue these activities, usually where the general public is not permitted;
  • transportation, blinds, and other essentials;
  • group activities as well as individual attention;
  • a network of people with similar interests and needs; and
  • a newsletter with the latest information about planned group or individual events.

Sponsorship of Kansas Outdoor Buddies may include tax-exempt cash donations, use of land for special events, becoming a volunteer "buddy," or donation of equipment. For more information on the group and its events, or to make a donation, contact Merle Heldenbrand at the above phone number or email [email protected].