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Called to Hunt

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S.C. Highway Patrol leads Mobility Outdoors for Christ

By Michele Roberts

Many of us probably take for granted the act of doing things outdoors.

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Whether it be hunting, fishing or participating in some outdoor sport, we don’t think twice about the opportunity.

A group of local state troopers, however, have come together to help those with disabilities also enjoy the great outdoors.

Mobility Outdoors for Christ is the name of the organization, and First Sgt. Paul Harrison of the South Carolina Highway Patrol said he felt the idea was a calling from the Lord.

“It just came to me, this idea of taking people out to hunt and fish who might not otherwise be able to do so,” he said. “I’ve been hunting since I was about 14, so I’ve got 30 years of experience doing it. And one day I thought about all of the people who have various disabilities, who might not be able to get out and do things like that, and who may really, really want to.”

Harrison, who is president of the organization, said he talked to a few people about it, and the next thing he knew, he had three people on board willing to make a commitment to the idea. First Sgt. Ray Sapp is vice president of MOFC; Cpl. Chris Caldwell is secretary; and Lance Cpl. Ilean Granata is treasurer. All three are Christians and were excited to be a part of the project.

“I thought about God creating the great outdoors, and Paul’s desire to take people out who can’t go on their own,” he said. “To be able help disabled veterans, past and present, or other disabled adults and kids go out and see God’s creation in a way they never have before, that’s just a few of the reasons I wanted to be a part of this. To see the sun rise from a deer stand, to see all of creation awaken from a night’s sleep, or to see it go to sleep as turkeys fly to their roost, that’s some of the things I hope we will allow people to be able to see.”

Granata said she looks forward to being able to give back to people.

“I enjoy instilling that type of happiness in people,” she said. “There are many people out there who don’t get to enjoy these types of things, outdoor things, and I want to be a part of giving that experience back to people, as well as to do so in a Christian environment. It’s important to me for those with disabilities know that they have the ability to get outside and hunt or fish if that’s what they want to do.”

Sapp said he has a personal interest in helping Harrison’s cause.

“We all love the Lord, and want to serve Him however we can,” he said. “Not only to serve others, but help them. And this means a lot to me, because I have a son who is developmentally challenged. He loves being outside and I try to get out there with him as much as I possibly can. The idea of being able to do that for other people, to get them outside in the sunshine, and help them experience that freedom, that’s definitely something I want to be a part of.”

According to Harrison’s “About Us” page, Mobility Outdoors for Christ is a non-profit, non-denominational Christian ministry devoted to helping people with disabilities that limit their mobility to get out into God’s great outdoors. MOFC plans to accomplish this through hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation.

“I fish, but I’m not very good at it,” Harrison said. “I never catch anything when I go. I’m hoping we are going to take some people out there who can show me how it’s done.”

Lancaster resident Randy Langley was the group’s first participant on a hunt.

Langley, who lost both legs to diabetes, went hunting on Dec. 14.

“A buddy of mine went with me, to help me get in and out,” he said. “I have a smaller power chair that I use when I go places, and when they got it out of the truck and got me in it, they took me to a spot, parked me, and set the blind up around me. I had a rifle rest in there, and I was ready to go. It was cold, but that’s part of hunting, and it was a good time.”

Rock Hill resident Allen Brandon, who is a cousin of Harrison’s wife, also recently went on hunt.

Brandon was injured in a motorcycle accident four years ago and has been confined to a wheelchair ever since.

“Before my accident, I was very much into hunting,” he said. “And this is actually the first time I have been since the accident, in 2008. It was absolutely enjoyable and they accommodated me every way possible. I think we are going to try to go one more time, before the season is over, and I’m definitely looking forward to it. I actually had a shot on a buck this time, and unfortunately I missed, but it was just so good to be out there.”

The organization held its first fundraiser on Jan. 8 at Pizza Inn in Lancaster.

Harrison said he hopes there will be a lot of support from the community, as the group will need a lot of equipment to effectively do what they’ve set out to do and hopefully grow beyond the tri-county area of Lancaster, York, and Chesterfield counties.

“Many times I’ve asked the Lord why He picked me for this,” he said. “I don’t have anything wheelchair accessible, I drive a 12 year old truck that leaks oil and antifreeze, and in some ways I feel I’m really not set up for this. But in the end, I don’t think He’s really worried about that. He just wants me to do it, and I believe He’ll make the way. I know this will happen – I feel positive that this is a calling from Him and not just something we dreamed up.”

For more information on the organization, or to make a donation, please write to:
Mobility Outdoors For Christ
P.O. Box 37297
Rock Hill, SC 29732