Hunt of a Lifetime Helps Ill and Disabled Kids With Outdoor Dreams

The year was 1998 and Tina Pattison of Erie County, Pennsylvania, was on a mission to coordinate a moose hunt for her terminally ill stepson Matthew. As he lay sick in bed, she talked with him about what things he wanted to do. When his answer was to hunt moose with his father, Pattison felt a weight in her stomach. She knew how costly a trip like that would be, but she was determined to make it happen for him.

The clock was ticking and funds were tight. She had contacted several wish-granting organizations only to be turned away. Signs pointed to the denials coming about because of the nature of the wish. A hunting trip just wasn't something most non-profits were willing to coordinate. Pattison picked up the phone and began calling outfitter after outfitter. Hope was waning and her list was getting short when Pattison finally made the connections that put Matthew's moose hunt into motion.

Pattison received a call from Clayton Grosso, an outfitter in Nordegg, a tiny village in Alberta, Canada. Grosso's wife Hilda had lost her right arm to cancer several years before, so their family understood how devastating terminal illness can be. They were deeply touched by Matthew's story and felt that they must do everything in their power to provide him with a hunt. Their entire town pulled together to provide Matthew with the hunt of his dreams, and he was able to harvest a huge bull moose.

Matthew passed away about six months after his hunt of a lifetime, in 1999 at the age of 19. Shortly after, Pattison founded Hunt of a Lifetime to offer other sick kids the same opportunity.

What started in Pennsylvania has now helped families all across the United States. As of 2022, Hunt Of A Lifetime has helped nearly 2,000 youth achieve those dream hunts and trips. Hunt of a Lifetime works with a network of volunteers and outfitters across the country to coordinate all the logistics. There is no cost to the families and Hunt of a Lifetime never turns down and youth that have been diagnosed with life threatening illnesses or life threatening disabilities. Most years they average between 55 and 57 excursions, but Pattison has a goal to provide 100 per year, she told Go Erie.

Raising funds to sustain and grow Hunt of a Lifetime is a big job. The organization has volunteers across the country holding raffles, golf outings, and 3D archery shoots to help raise money to cover the costs associated with a dream trip. They also have support from larger organizations such as the National Rifle Association, New York Conservation Officer's Association, Barnett Crossbows, Pheasants Unlimited and Whitetails Unlimited and fraternal and civic organizations.

For corporate sponsors, there are sponsorship opportunities in varying tiers, ranging from $5,000 to $50,000.

Hunt of a Lifetime is always seeking volunteers. Those interested in either volunteering or simply more information can contact the organization via email [email protected] or visit the website.