Ruffed Grouse Society's Outreach Program Continues to Help Youngsters Cope
Under Broken Wings provides an opportunity for disabled youth
Coraopolis, Pennsylvania – From the moment it was proposed, the Ruffed Grouse Society's (RGS) Under Broken Wings (UBW) outreach program was destined to become a huge success, in as much as its mission was aimed at helping youngsters though difficult times.
Now in its third year, the UBW program selects a young hunter with physical challenges and provides them with an all-expense paid trip to the RGS' annual National Grouse and Woodcock Hunt, in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
Conceived to put disadvantaged young people in hunting situations that often challenge veteran sportsmen and women, the programs objective is to provide as much support as necessary, while making sure the youngster is instrumental in the success of the hunt.
This year's participant was Brittany Zebrasky, 13, of Hartland, Wisconsin. At age 5 Brittany was diagnosed with a brain tumor, but because of the location the tumor could only be partially removed. Despite several more surgeries and combative chemotherapy and radiation treatments the tumors have never completely gone away.
But neither has her zest for life, or her ability to accomplish what she sets out to do — especially when it comes to hunting. An eighth-grader at Northshore Middle School in Hartland, Brittany, who has a wall full of trophy mounts, shot her first grouse during the UBW hunt.
“She is an inspiration to us all,” said UBW board member Jim Hayett, who along with board member Dr. Joe Chandler of Anchorage, Alaska, and Hayett's 10-year-old German short-hair pointer “Knotty”, accompanied Brittany on her hunt. “Not only has she been back in the hospital three times since the hunt, but she found time to shoot a nice buck during the Wisconsin bow season,” Hayett said.
The Hunt has been a fall tradition of the Grand Rapids RGS Chapter for the past 26 years.
In talking about Brittany, UBW president Jerry Snetsinger of Cohasset, Minnesota said, “She was fantastic. Everything worked out well, and we couldn't have asked for a nicer or more courteous youngster.”
Along with Snetsinger, Hayett and Chandler the UBW board includes attorney Dennis O'Toole, of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and Mike Zagata, executive director and CEO of the Ruffed Grouse Society.
“The Under Broken Wings program should serve as an inspiration to other RGS chapters that would like to start a similar program of their own. It has a proven track record in Grand Rapids, and even though not all chapters can make such an extensive commitment, a lot of good can be accomplished with some effort and forethought, and a desire to give challenged youngsters the chance to experience shooting and hunting, activities many of us take for granted,” Zagata said.
Established in 1961, the Ruffed Grouse Society is the one international wildlife conservation organization dedicated to promoting conditions suitable for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and related wildlife to sustain our sport-hunting tradition and outdoor heritage.
Information on the RGS, its mission, management projects and membership can be found on the web at: www.ruffedgrousesociety.org.
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