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Hunt Of A Lifetime Part 4 With Vicky Lauer And Dan Hughes
Welcome to a special episode of Whitetail Rendezvous. It is special because Hunt of a Lifetime is a special group of people that do one thing. They take children under the age of 21 on hunting or fishing or to fulfill a dream that they have in the outdoors. I have Vicky Lauer who’s been with Hunt of a Lifetime for over seventeen years. She doesn’t hunt but she sure cares about kids. Vicky, welcome to the show. I’m interested to know why you got involved with Hunt of a Lifetime and why you’ve been with it for seventeen years. That’s quite a commitment.
Thank you for having us on the show. Hunt of a Lifetime is special to me. My nephew was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy several years ago and it brings life into reality. You sit back and you wonder, what are people going to remember you for? What is your meaning in life going to be? When we came across Hunt of a Lifetime, my former husband and I wanted to set up a 3D shoot for our club. We had to decide who would benefit from that actual event. Hunt of a Lifetime was the organization that we choose and we couldn’t go wrong with that helping kids. Once you meet these kids, they leave an imprint on your life that you will never forget. I was hooked right from there.
You had a situation in your own family. How did you reach out? How did you find out about Hunt of a Lifetime?
We looked on their website. It’s www.HuntOfALifetime.org. We reached out to Tina Pattison and the club did find out how we can help the organization. We set up the 3D shoot. It’s one of the simplest ways to help the organization. If you have a club or you have an organization, you can set up your own event to help the organization and that’s exactly what we did. All the proceeds went to help the kids. That’s the great thing about Hunt of a Lifetime. We’re volunteers and we’re not paid to go out and work these events. We spend hours educating and raising donations at different events. Education is one of the biggest things. There are still a lot of people that don’t know that we’re out there and what we do. It’s great to be able to reach out and educate people on Hunt of a lifetime.
Are you up on social media?
Or the website?
Do you take kids out hunting or your main thrust is hosting the three days shoot and then giving all the proceeds over to Hunt of a Lifetime?
Yes, and we set up various events, too. One of our largest events here in Pennsylvania is the Great American Outdoor show up at the Harrisburg Farm Show Arena. We set up a booth every year up there. We have some of our kids come in and it’s great to have the kids meet everybody that comes by the booth. We have some amazing kids with great personalities. They’ve been dealt a tough hand in life. When you meet these kids, they are some of the happiest and most grateful kids you’d ever want to meet. They amaze me every day.
It’s something I’ve had with Tina, Jim and Kris Gilbert. I’ve had a couple of other people like Pat Beard and Blaine across the country. To a man and to a woman, the amount of dedication, commitment and service ring out because as I understand it, everything for the child and adult supervision is 100% paid for. There’s nothing that they have to do. They apply, get accepted, match the hunt up and go hunting.
That’s one of the best things about this organization. There is no cost to the child and we also provide them being on the board for one parental figure. They thank us for what we do for these kids. These kids do way more for us than we do for them. They have an impact on your life from the outfitter that takes them out to the people who volunteer and sign them up and to the person who does their mount for them. It’s impactful on everybody involved.
I also understand that you process the game, mount the fish or replica of the fish. It’s done for them and it’s mind-boggling to me that nobody knows about you. Why do you think that more people don’t know about Hunt of a Lifetime?
The hunting community is a close-knit community, but there are people who don’t hunt and I’m a prime example. You don’t have to hunt to support these kids. I started this because I was a 3D shooter. I have had many clubs get involved to raise funds for Hunt of a Lifetime who doesn’t necessarily hunt. You don’t have to hunt to know or support the organization. Some places can be ostracized. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but just because it’s not your cup of tea, it doesn’t mean it’s not one kid’s wish.
What I’ve been reminded over and over again is, “Here’s a kid that’s up against it. They may be terminal or they’re going to live but their life isn’t going to be all that great.” They come to Hunt of a Lifetime and say, “Here’s what I want to do. Can you make it happen?” You flat-out make it happen. From their socks, their feet to the beanie on their head, they’re covered.
If they don’t have a firearm, we provide them a firearm. Their hunts are professionally guided. It’s not like we just take a kid out in the woods and let him go. They’ve got a professional guide with them and those guides work hard to try to get what animal these kids want. Every year, I take a group of kids up to Letterkenny Army Depot. It’s up towards Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and the depot opens up every year to host a few of our kids to hunt whitetail. If there’s a bear, they’re able to harvest a bear if they have a tag. They also want you to get the coyote because the coyotes are varmints. The kids go up there and are able to harvest a deer and this is an addition to their larger hunt. This is a little something extra special for them. I had a young man a few years ago. He was able to harvest a buck, a doe and a coyote all in one day. That’s a heck of a hunt and that’s something that most hunters would never dream of. In addition to hunting the depot, they get to hunt with Wounded Warriors which is another impactful thing to see those kids interact with men and women who have served our country. There are things that I’ve seen with this organization that are truly profound and have affected my life in the best way possible.
After seventeen plus years, how has it changed you as a person?
At some point in your life, you sit back and think, “What do you want to be remembered for?” I’m a grandmother and I want to be remembered as being the best grandmother and a mother possible. I also have kids that I look at as my own kids like Ryan, Douglas, Carson, Ariana, Wyatt, Gabe and Sam. These are kids that I have gotten to know and their families. Hunt of a Lifetime gives them an opportunity to forget for 5 to 7 days that they are sick and they’re going to have the treatment. They’re able to go out there and do what they do if they’ve been born and bred into hunting families. I helped to do that. I help to get them out on that hunt be it whether I help them with their paperwork or got it off to corporate. I help to set up an event that helps them with their travel. That gives my life meaning and it’s an amazing thing.
A few times, I’ve been involved with mentoring kids in the outdoors. They get a big smile, but I’ve got a bigger smile because I see somebody that’s all of a sudden, the whole world is open up to him that they didn’t know it existed. We’re talking about kids that have a dream to hunt a turkey or a hog. Tina said the first anaconda hunt is going to happen this winter someplace in Florida. That was a kid’s dream to hunt an anaconda so they’re going to do it.
I didn’t know about that one.
It might be birds, crappie or bass. It doesn’t matter. It’s their dream and because it’s their dream, you are going to make it happen and it’s an amazing commitment that’s nationwide. How many ambassadors do you have throughout the country?Hunting is not everybody’s cup of tea but just because it's not your cup of tea, it doesn't mean it's not one kid's wish. Click To Tweet
I couldn’t give you a number but we have ambassadors throughout the country. If you’re interested and if you’re in a certain state, you can go to our website. You’re able to go in and find out where our ambassadors are and who you can contact.
They can go to www.HuntOfALifetime.org and then look up on how to get in touch or how to apply. All they need to do is bring up the website. Where do they go to apply their children? Where does a parent submit the application?
There is a spot on our page where you can go and look for the application under forms. It’s a youth application. It’s that simple. Make sure you complete the form, send it off to our corporate offices and we’ll start looking for a hunt to send you on.
Tina said that there are only a couple of people that receive any pay at all for Hunt of a Lifetime. Is that correct?
There are few and Tina would be best to give you that information about who they are.
It’s a handful of people that get paid and then everybody else is all volunteer. Every time you go to a show, every time you put on a 3D shoot, and every time you’re at the Harrisburg show and spending hours there, it’s all for Hunt of a Lifetime.
That is all volunteers. All of us who go out especially the Harrisburg show, it’s a long one. We spend a lot of hours there in the booth setups, 3D shoots and block shots. I have an organization down here that does a dog run. They have several people that sign up to compete with their bird dogs and they turn that money over to Hunt of a Lifetime.
If you’re reading and if you’re involved in any type of conservation outdoor organization, call somebody and get a hold of Vicky or Tina Pattison and say, “Tell me more.” Maybe you’re not interested but you know somebody that needs to be interested or has some funds that they want to dedicate to a 501(c)(3) organization. Say, “I go hunting with Outwest Outfitters in Colorado and I want to make sure a kid can go out and hunt a deer antelope, mule deer, antelope or elk. I’m going to make that happen with our donation.”
We’re always looking for outfitters and taxidermists. One thing that people can donate is air miles. If they have air miles that they’re not going to use and they want to donate, we’ll take them. We’ve had basket bingos that go on to support Hunt of a Lifetime.
I never thought of the air mile thing. By the way, Dan Huges is also an Ambassador with Hunt of a Lifetime. He’s joined us on the show. Dan, where do you hail from?
We’re from Lancaster PA, but we moved up at Snow Shoe Pennsylvania.
That’s in the mountains, I understand.
I live in Colorado and I can’t call them mountains but they’re a big hill. Dan, why are you involved with Hunt of a Lifetime?
The reason why my wife and I got started is we had a friend that wanted to do a pig roast to the men of Hunt of a Lifetime. I said, “I’m way too busy.” I figured out, “I’ll cook the pig for him because I cook pigs.” While the other young gentleman Gabe is the sweetest old boy you ever wanted to meet. As of now, he’s a good friend of mine. We’ve done seven pig roast and we’ve raised $21,000.
What was the start of your involvement with Hunt of a Lifetime?
That’s cooking pigs. I roast pigs. We do them all night. In the morning, I pack up our things and go home. They’re awesome kids.
You just had to say, “I’ve got to do it.” How many years have you been involved then?
This is our seventh year.
Good for you. Thank you. On behalf of hundreds of kids that you serve, what you do is amazing.
Me and my wife, we do all the saltwater shows, the kitchen shows, the hunting shows. It’s the Great American Outdoor Show at Harrisburg, and we’ll be there for nine days.Giving the kids something that they've always dreamed of is huge and life-impacting. Click To Tweet
The kids are like our family. They’re our local kids. They come out there in every event that we do and they become our family. They support us.
It’s a joy to help kids to go hunting and live out their dreams. We will probably never quit.
What’s the biggest challenge that you have in getting kids to go and hunt or getting donations and support?
Our biggest challenge is finding kids. We do a lot of that and we try our best. Everybody knows we’re going to be able to in New Jersey, New York, so the kids can come out and sign up. It’s finding kids, getting out there and talking to people. We get a lot of support from the hunting and fishing community. In Saltwater Shows, the guys are awesome. They give a lot of donations for our outing events. The outfitters in Harrisburg, I can’t thank them enough. They do a great job with our kids.
Vicky, do you work closely with Dan or are you far apart?
I work closely with Dan. Dan and his wife, Marge, is also heavily involved. I’ve worked with them probably all seven years that they’ve been with the organization.
We love Vicky. We started under Vicky as volunteers and then we became committee members.
I was the Eastern Pennsylvania Ambassador and I stepped down because I wanted to spend more time with my family, but I can’t leave this organization. It means too much to me. Dan and Marge have taken over as ambassadors for Eastern Pennsylvania.
They’re the central contact person. Dan, if somebody wants to say, “I know somebody in PA that wants to go on a hunt or fishing trip. How do they get ahold of you?
They can call me and they can look at our website. We have a Facebook page, Eastern Pennsylvania Hunt of a Lifetime. They can look us up there. They can message me and they can call me. I don’t know if I’m allowed to give my phone number.
I’d rather not. Just tell them to go to your website.
Message me there and I’ll get back to you. I retired so I’ve got plenty of time.
Dan, share with the readers a story that made you smile and made you cry.
You knew I was going to say Sammy.
Yes, I did.
Sammy is a wonderful kid. Hunt of a Lifetime sent him to the orphanage of Michigan for a bear hunt. Sammy didn’t get his bear, so the last time we were going to Harrisburg, he came in and you can hear him 75 yards away yelling. He caught a 42 northern pike. He never once said, “I didn’t get a bear.” He was excited and happy to get to go fishing and catch fish. He’s a wonderful kid and a blessing for all of us.
We have Carson. He met us at The Outdoor Show. Carson wanted a red stag so bad and we were able to take him to meet Grant Fritz. He’s probably all of our mentors. He’s been with the organization since it started and he was able to take Carson down to meet an outfitter from New Zealand. The outfitter was touched by Carson that they told Grant, “We want him to come out with us.” Within a few months, he was boarding a plane to New Zealand. He was able to get his red stag.
He boarded with the family.
The family came to me and Marge’s wedding a couple of years ago
For the red stag people or Carson’s family?It's a joy to help kids to go hunting and live out their dreams. Click To Tweet
For Carson’s family. His family is amazing. You will not only meet the kids, but you meet the families and the trials and tribulations that they’ve been through. When you have a child and you don’t know what the next step is, or what’s going to happen in their lives. When you’re able to give them something that they’ve always dreamed of. Not every kid wants to go to Disney World. These kids were born into families that hunt. To have an organization to say, “I’m going to take you out hunting and I’m going to get you the animal that you’ve always dreamed of,” is huge and it’s life-impacting, not only to the children but to the family.
We have many good families that are with us the whole way. They were sad that we weren’t going to do the outing anymore. We moved 2.5 hours away from Vicky so it’s hard to do that. It’s all year long. We get donations and we have over 300 times auction prices that we wrap off. It’s all year that we do that. My wife and her friend do that.
Dan and Marge, how has Hunt of a Lifetime changed you personally?
Every time I see a child, I ask their family. I’m not trying to pry into personal business, but I ask them what’s wrong with their child and find out. I tell them about Hunt of a Lifetime and I tell them they don’t have to tell me what’s wrong with their child because it hit the policies. A lot of them do and they proceed to tell me. I tell them about Hunt of a Lifetime and they think it’s amazing and then they sign their child up. I get them some paperwork and I love it. I’ve been doing it for several years with my husband. I love raising money for them and I love going to shows. Every child I meet is a different experience.
I grew up hunting on a farm in Lancaster County. I grew up deer and pheasant hunting. In my whole life, I’ve hunted. Now, I hunt little but I would drive to New York City just to find a child that I can send hunting that wanted to go on a hunt or a fishing trip. I would rather find a child that would go hunting and do it myself because I’ve been blessed. I’ve hunted with my dad and two brothers all of my life. My two girls are. Our deal is, we can find another child, we just have to go look. We go and look, and we find them.
I think they found you, after learning from four different people. The universe brings them to you. You could say God brings them to you. The children are supposed to find you guys because you’re unique. There are a lot of organizations out there that do similar types of work, but after interviewing six different people, it’s different. It extends from a child reaching out to you and all of a sudden, as you talked about Carson and his family going to the wedding and different things like that, they become family. Because they go on a hunt and they’re not processed through the system, that doesn’t happen with Hunt of a Lifetime. That’s my two cents and my opinion. Vicky, your thoughts?
It takes me back. In this organization, you can’t be a wallflower. I scour Facebook and people’s pages when they have a sick child. You can’t be afraid. One of my favorite moments came from when I saw a young man named Ryan on Facebook. He was in a town next to me and I saw his post from his dad. I reached out to his dad and I said, “I would love to meet Ryan. Would he like to go on a hunt? I would love to talk to you about it.” I had a 3D shoot in the same town where he lived and I said, “Come on over and let’s talk about what we can do for Ryan.” His dad brought him over and Ryan had a brain tumor. He was sick when we first met him. He had been going through treatments. He had lost his hair and his vision was impacted. This little boy came to this event and we got to sit down and talk to him. He couldn’t decide which animal he wanted. Did he want a moose? Did he want an elk? He finally set his sights on an elk and we sent him, but because of the way his vision was impacted, we wouldn’t have been able to send him out on your standard hunt.
We were able to work and get him in a fenced hunt so that he was able to get his elk. I’ll never forget the day that he came to fill out his paperwork. It was hot and he was going through active chemo treatments. He was sick and it was a hot day in August. We walked outside and I had given him his paperwork. We talked a little bit about what we would be able to do for him and we walked outside for a little bit and watched some of the activities. The guys were doing some long shots and he came down there with me. He tugged on his dad’s jacket and he said, “I’m ready to go, dad.” He went to go get back in his car. I’m watching him walk to his car and he stops and he turns around. He came back and he gave me the biggest hug. I was just floored. This child who didn’t know me but knew we were going to do something for him. Marge can tell you that I’m an emotional person. It brings you to tears, the gratefulness of the kids and the family. We were able to send him out on that hunt and he got a super nice elk and. The family ate that meat for a year and he got a beautiful pedestal mount. We had that up at The Outdoor Show. These kids deserve what we give them and much more.
Final thoughts, Dan and Marge?
Hopefully, the Lord keeps bringing the kids to us because we need to get them out there hunting and fishing. We love what we do and we enjoy it. We will keep doing it for as long as we can.
We love the kids and we want them to keep coming and find us. We’re in a lot of places and get a hold of us. We’ll send you hunting, fishing or whatever you choose.
Vicky, why don’t you wrap it up?
The reality is we do lose some of our kids. We lost two that I personally worked with. One was Wyatt and the other was Ariana, but the best part about it was that we were allowed to give them and they were allowed to experience Hunt of a Lifetime. Wyatt was able to go to Maine and harvest the moose. Ariana was able to go to Idaho and harvest the turkey that she always dreamed of. That’s what it is for me and for every volunteer with Hunt of a Lifetime. Being able to see the joy and have those children have that time to forget about being sick and go out and enjoy something that they love to do.
On behalf of hundreds of thousands of people that follow Whitetail Rendezvous and myself personally, thank you for making a difference in children’s lives. Where sometimes, they don’t see that anything is ever going to happen to them. That’s good. You are doing incredible work. Keep it up.
Thank you for what you do.
- Hunt of a Lifetime
- Hunt of a Lifetime – Facebook page
- Hunt of a Lifetime Eastern Pennsylvania – Facebook page
- Forms tab – Hunt of a Lifetime
About dan Hughes
Well how I started Hunt of a lifetime I was making a pig for a pig roast for a friend that was trying to raise money for hoal and I ended up staying at the pig roast and I met Gabe one of the hunt of a lifetime kids the following year I took over the pig roast to raise money than I started being asked to do shows for hoal and I have been with them ever since it is a great organization I have meet good people and great kids I have been with them for 7 years now an ambassador for eastern Pennsylvania hunt of a lifetime.
About Vicky Lauer
“Eighteen years ago my ex-husband and I were looking for a charity organization to support with a 3D archery shoot at Jefferson Sportsman Association. That was when I first met Tina Pattison and learned about Hunt Of A Lifetime. My nephew Andy, had recently been diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. When reading about a young man with the same disease had gone on a hunt with HOAL,…I just knew this was the organization for me.
Our kids and their stories touch my heart in a way most will ever understand. They and their families are living through the same struggles and heartbreak that my family had gone through with our Andy. While I was unable to get Andy out on a fishing trip with HOAL due to his failing health, we were able to do a lot of local fishing before we lost him in 2012. Andy lives on in every child I am able to help and every person I am able to educate.
My favorite thing to do with HOAL is to educate people in what we do and how these dreams impact not only our kids, but their families, outfitters, taxidermists, doners and pretty much anyone who crosses their paths in one way or another. I love when they ask questions and show true interest in what we do.
I look back at my eighteen years with HOAL, the laughter, the happy tears and the sad tears and I know that my life has purpose. We made a difference in these kids lives in so many ways….and in ways we may never know. I have met so many wonderful volunteers and we are all working to achieve the same goal. We were able to give them a dream that they may never had been able to experience if it had not been for one woman’s strength to push for her own son’s dream. I am extremely grateful to Tina Pattison and I have a special place in my heart for a young man I have never met, but know he was truly amazing….Matthew Pattison.”