Two area children were recently selected to participate in the annual Pheasants Forever Youth Outdoor event. The kids and their families spent a long weekend at the beautiful Queenstown hunting lodge in Parker, where they were showered with gifts and surprises – a scooter, a rifle, fishing rods, UTV rides, bird hunting, unicorn slippers, fishing, geocaching, clothing, horseback riding, a pheasant mount, and more food than they could possibly eat! And most of all memories for a lifetime.
Each youth faces special challenges in their real lives, so the event was a weekend to forget all the doctors and hospitals.
David Smith is from St. Marys and was happy to say he had his last chemotherapy session on Sept. 8. His parents, Brian and Danielle, were there for their son for the Ring the Bell ceremony at Children’s Hospital. Brian claims David is a ‘Professional Pill Swallower.’ Grandpa Larry Reagle is proud to say he takes David fishing often and even at a young age, David out-fishes everyone. On this special weekend, David lasted longer than the adults on the cold, windy afternoon while they caught crappy, bass and sunfish in Ron and Deanna Vlassich’s pond. He loved riding the Tennessee Walker but they were very happy to shoot more skeet and pheasant hunt again.
Angelika Maletto is also 11 years old. She is a tiny thing with a huge, warm smile. She, her brother Adam, mom Nicole, and dad Jim, live in Bradford. Grandma and Papa, Bonnie and Fred came along from Wilcox. She went bird hunting with Heidi, the ghost Weimaraner and “got two chukars and the dog got one.” She wants to be a cook when she grows up and has even cooked with Chef Jeff from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Not shy, she took control of Henry the mule and kissed her first fish for luck.
Dorrie Olay and Austin Pringle were the youth hosts for our two younger guests. They were in charge of making them feel comfortable and presenting them with their gifts.
All the previous PFYO families were invited for dinner; stories were told of past PFYO bird hunts as the group caught up.
The North Central PA Pheasants Forever #630 extends a thank-you to those who attend their annual banquet and offer other support year-round. The team works hard all year on the youth, habitat and veteran events in the local area.