The air was cold, the wind was blowing on November 11th (Veterans Day) as 29 disabled veterans and 10 of their dependents started to arrive at Rochester area Chester Woods for the 5th annual deer hunt. The event, over the past 5 years, has been a collaborative effort led by Mayo Southeast DAV Chapter 28, the Olmsted County veterans service officer team (CVSO’s) and the Olmsted County Parks team. The excitement in the air over the November 12th – 15th hunt brought smiles and warmth to the folks gathered determined to make this hunt successful.
Tom Eckdahl,Park Supervisor for Chester Woods stated ” This hunt has grown over the 5 years and not only provides a very unique hunting opportunity for the disabled veterans and their dependents, but it brings together a very generous team of sponsors, coordinators, and volunteers to make it happen”. He provided a list of of the “make it happen team” :
- 38 sponsors
- 15 meat cutters
- 5 photographers
- 19 additional volunteers
Over the 5 years, many disabled veterans and their dependents have thoroughly enjoyed this supervised and coordinated hunt. Sponsors provided financial help, meals, beverages, snacks, transportation, lodging, and equipment.
One of the hunters , Jim Sursely, a triple amputee from the VietNam War and native of Rochester traveled to the hunt from from his current home in Apopka, Florida. Rich Daly, the Mayo Southeast DAV Chapter commander stated ” it was great to have Jim Sursely, a member of our chapter, and a Past National Commander of the DAV join us for the hunt as it provided him the opportunity to reconnect with his many friends during the hunt”.
“It is our intent to continue this event on an annual basis ” said Neil Doyle, the Olmsted County CVSO Supervisor.
Each hunt provides an outdoor / hunting opportunity for those that may not normally get the chance to get out and hunt like they used to. At the end of the hunt, a united purpose was achieved…… the disabled veterans and their dependents enjoyed a better quality of life thanks to the organizations, volunteers and sponsors who came together to make it happen.
“These hunts are growing in interest, and more and more members of our organizations as well as community leaders are wanting to become involved and volunteer to help, and we are already looking forward to 2016 ” said Tom Eckdahl.