Step by step…

I will apologize in advance… this one is long)
Step by Step…

When it seems like everything is going well and life is getting back to “normal”; that is the time that all heck breaks loose and that other shoe falls. From Mid July 2000 to the end of 2000 that is exactly what happened. When we left the hospital on July 3rd, we were instructed to return for a follow-up appointment with the pediatric Urologist in two weeks. The doctors, quarterbacks for team Kimbro, had scheduled another surgery on July 22nd for little Spencer and we needed to check in the day before to make sure all was well with Spencer and that the surgery could go ahead as scheduled. We had left Sydney and Skylar at my sister’s house in Ephrata, packed up the truck and camper and headed to Seattle Children’s Hospital.
The appointment went just fine, Spencer had gained weight and we asked about the surgery that has been planned for the next day. Both doctors gave us a very strange look… the surgery had been cancelled, but the surgery scheduler had failed to notify the family. Perfect. Since we were already packed, we decided to make the best of the situation. We drove backOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA home, picked up his sisters and headed to Mount Rainier. Mount Rainier had been our get-a-way spot for years; it was like going home. The mountain and trees were calming for all of us; it was the escape our family needed. We enjoyed the sunshine, family walks and campfires. For the first time in months, we were spending some quality time as a family without the stress of hospitals and the “what-ifs”.
Here comes the other shoe…
Problems arose again in August. Spencer’s potassium levels went crazy and our doctor informed us that we needed to administer Kaexalate to stabilize him so we could get to Children’s. Our local hospital refused to administer the medicine, so it was up to mom. I gave Spencer the medicine at the clinic and the clock began; We had 3 hours to get Spencer to Children’s, once in Seattle they could determine what was going on and correct the problem… we hoped. Once again, my family took the girls so we could make our trip to Seattle. This time Children’s was bringing in the Big Guns. Head of Surgeons was called in to review Spencer’s case. We were put on the third floor; this makes three different floors we had been on in two months. We stayed for 3 days, Spencer’s levels corrected themselves, but we left without any answers as to why his body had gone crazy in the first place. This episode postponed surgery again…
The next step…
Spencer was born with Spina Bifida and missing his last three vertebra as well as his tailbone. His back also has a ¼ turn around the hips and his spinal column had not sealed at the end. As a result, the spinal fluid began to increase and create a bulge in his spinal column, much like a water balloon filling up on a faucet. This was the bulge that doctors in Spokane initially thought was the cancerous tumor that would kill Spencer months before. This bulge created much concern for the neurologists. A new plan was designed; Spencer was to face back surgery to repair his spinal column. However, the closing of the column would most certainly cause excess pressure on his brain from the excess spinal fluid. We were told that there was a high probability that Spencer were leave surgery with a shunt from his skull to his stomach. WE prepared for surgery. One more obstacle to overcome, but through prayers and family, we knew we were not alone and we could face this challenge too. Our poor boy was only 2 ½ months old and forced to endure so much. How can God keep doing this to our boy? I wanted answers… answers that never came.
Once again, family gathered at the hospital and we waited through surgery. Hours passed and the doctors finally came out to speak with Dan and me. The nerves at the end of his spine were a tangled mess and could not be saved, the bulge was removed and Spencer lost all control of his legs. Until that moment, he was able to pull his legs up, but nothing else, now… he would not have that either. The incision looks like a giant Superman symbol on his back, staples cover his back and tubes are coming out for drainage.

Back surgery and Residents…

Over the few days after Spencer’s back surgery we watched as Spencer’s drainage tubes continued to pull out extra fluid, it should have be decreasing. I voiced my concerns several times to staff; we get no response. I finally insisted on seeing the head guy, the lead Neurosurgeon. He came in, did an exam of Spencer’s back and his charts, he was furious. He scheduled surgery, to repair the leak, for the next morning, Sunday, the day of Angel’s birthday party put on by the nurses. Grandma and Grandpa Carpenter showed up to sit with Dan and me during surgery. We sent Spencer off to surgery, again hoping for the best. One hour later the doctor came out to tell us he had found a small leak that was missed the first time, he apologized for the first surgery and assured us he repaired this leak himself. The shunt that was to be a guarantee is not needed… without explanation, Spencer’s body automatically adjusted to the sealed spinal column and did not create any pressure on his brain, one small positive. One of many moments in Spencer’s life in which he has surprised the doctors; there will be more surprises to come.
Two days after the second back surgery, one of the neurosurgeon residents came in to check on the drainage from Spencer’s back. The tube can be removed so the nurse went to go get the supplies, numbing gel to numb Spencer’s back for the two stitches to close the hole where the tube was, the kit for doing the stitching and gauze pads. She told me it would be a few minutes so I ran to the bathroom. When I returned I heard Spencer screaming and I could tell from the look on Dan’s face that I was about to go into Mama Bear mode again. The doctor had decided to remove the tube from Spencer’s back without numbing the area and then put the two stitches in his back, again without numbing gel, as soon as he was done, he left the room (before I got back- that part was smart of him). I was livid!! I yelled at the nurse, I yelled at anyone who would listen, and then the doctor walked back in. I informed him that this child he made cry and scream was my baby, as a pediatric doctor I would have expected some form of compassion and that if he would allow, I would put him on the floor and put two stitches in his back. He was shocked … moments of silence followed and finally he apologized for being inconsiderate. His apology is accepted, but it will never erase that moment for Spencer or for Dan and I. Spencer is sent home 2 days later and schedule another follow-up appointment for two weeks. Home again!!

Our Angel…

We have met so many amazing people in the last 12 years, during all of the hospital stays, but this time we meet an amazing young girl. I will call her our Angel. Angel had spent her entire life in the hospital. She was angry and mean to others because of her situation, her family was not there with her and it would be months between visits from her parent. Despite hating everyone, she made a connection to Dan, Spencer and I. She loved coming into Spencer’s room and sitting with us for hours. Sometimes she would talk to us, other times she would just sit and watch Spencer. Angel had always had a feeding tube and never tasted food, but she would have someone bring her to the hospital cafeteria to sit with Dan and me. The nurses were so amazed at the quick and strong connection she made with us. Her twelfth birthday was coming up and she had told us how excited she was because her dad was supposed to come and pick her up. She was hoping to go to lunch and a movie, because, as Angel said, “…in a dark theater, no one stares”. She was a loving soul looking for comfort, Dan and I tried to provide that for her. Angel’s birthday came and her dad did show up, she was so excited and full of smiles. She returns too soon for a movie and meal. Her dad took her to get a haircut and McDonald’s. That poor girl’s wishes were destroyed.
After back surgery we were home for two weeks, we had missed Angel’s birthday party so we decided to surprise her with a gigantic stuffed dog and balloons when we returned for Spencer’s two-week check up. We made it through Spencer’s neurology appointment and headed to the hospital rooms to visit with Angel. Her hospital bed is empty, (just like in the movies). As we got to the nurses’ station, one of Angel’s main nurses caught us. She informed us that after we were discharged, Angel was put in Pediatric ICU and that she was not doing very well. The tears in the nurse’s eyes made my heart sink. We rushed to the PICU to see Angel, but because she was a child, we were not allowed to go see her without her parents in the room. Since her parents are never at the hospital, could not see her. The nurses took the presents to Angel and told us that she smiled when the nurse told her we had wanted to see her. Angel spent her last few days alone in the PICU. Writing that now brings tears to my eyes and makes my heart ache for this little soul. God Bless you Angel!

And Spencer’s Story continues…4823173690125(

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The Parade Begins…

The Parade begins…

Blog 8 2.pngEveryone has left the hospital to go home and it is just Spencer and I against the world of doctors, nurses, interns, residents, “Lookie-Lous”… anyone wanting a peek; we were at their mercy.  Beginning at 7AM each morning doctors would arrive with their team of followers.  At first, I was furious and annoyed, I wanted everyone to leave us alone and allow Spencer to heal and grow in peace.  However, I realized, or was told by Dr. Grady, Spencer was a very rare case and if doctors could learn how to heal this condition and this would help another family… we would need to endure the looks.

One of our doctors (for anyone keeping track, we have had about a dozen so far, from every different specialty) came in on June 30th (day 9) to tell us that once Spencer started eating we could take our sweet baby home.   Up to this point, Spencer had not been allowed to nurse or bottle feed, eating would use up too many valuable calories and we needed all we could get to help Spencer grow and gain weight.   They started TPN (IV nourishment) and I was allowed to feed Spencer his first breast milk from a bottle, Spencer was too small and weak for nursing.

He’s eating!!!  5ccs of breast milk at first, a small amount, but still food in his tummy.  It was wonderful to see him eat, finally!    Slowly we started to add to his feedings; 10 cc, 15 cc, 20 ccs and on; every three hours every day.  The sky was getting brighter and home was finally in the horizon!  The doctors determined that when Spencer could eat and keep 45ccs of milk in his tummy every 3 hours we could go home safely.  At that rate we couldBlog 8.3 be home by July 1st… phone calls were made, tears were shed and smiles appeared again.  He would be going home to his sisters, his daddy and his extended family.  For the first time, Spencer would be carried through the front door of home! HOME!  By now Spencer and I had been alone in the hospital for 5 days and desperate to have family with us or break out and head home.

We hit the wall… at 25 cc of milk, Spencer could not eat anymore, exhausted, he had to stop eating.  My heart was crushed, Spencer had tried so hard, I was sure he knew home was waiting for him, too … home would have to wait.  The NG tube would have to be put in his nose to his tummy to help him get milk into his stomach. To this day, Spencer hates that tube!  The feedings continued and he tolerated them perfectly.  So maybe we would have to wait two more days, we could do that… home was still just out of reach.  Perhaps we would be home by July 4th, Independence day.

Daddy Visits… Dan surprised us by showing up at the hospital at 11 PM that Friday night.  He left after work so he could be with us all weekend.  Dan woke Spencer and I up with a sweet kiss, it was wonderful to have Spencer’s daddy there with us.  We were a united front, working together to get our family back home and together, finally.  Saturday and Sunday were filled with lessons from the nurses on how to care for Spencer’s conditions and practicing the NG tube feedings.  Dan and I passed with flying colors, we were ready for home… We were just waiting for the doctors to tell us “GO HOME”.   On July 3rd that is exactly what our doctors said; Dan had already left to go home for work, so Grandma and Blog 8 4.pngGrandpa Carpenter drove to Seattle Children’s to help get Spencer and I home.  Grandpa drove the truck and camper and Grandma drove Spencer and me.  We were checked out with specific instructions to see our family doctor in Moses lake each week for weight checks and to check the placement of Spencer’s NG tube, a follow up appointment with Dr. Mitchell at Children’s was scheduled for three weeks and another surgery scheduled for July 22nd …  Blah, Blah, ok… just let us go home.  HOME!!

Things to think about:

  • I may have already stated this… but      please, please, please, refrain from asking parents “What is wrong with your child?”  I have discovered I do not have any Blog 8    tolerance for this question anymore.       If asked, my standard line to you will be, “There is nothing WRONG      with my child, did you mean to ask, “What is his condition?”.”  This may make you uncomfortable, but I      guarantee you will never ask that question again in that way.  That is just RUDE
  • Compassion and tolerance is what      that is called; practice it.
  • People in wheelchairs can go up and      down an escalator just fine!       Holding on to their chair for them will only put them off      balance.  And, telling them they      cannot ride on the escalator is discrimination… I would suggest just      letting people be…
  • Why would anyone think it is ok to      walk up to my son and grab his empty pant leg?  Do I grab your clothes or your child’s      clothing?

 

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Where is my baby boy? Y.O.U. Mom Blog 7

Where is my baby boy?

The recent conversation with my son was a real revelation.   On our way back from wheelchair basketball practice in Spokane, Spencer and I began a conversation about school, friends, and life.  What I thought was a conversation about his day at school, ended up with a 30-minute explanation about why he WAS.

Spencer began by talking to me about a video he and his classmates watched at school called, “No arms, No legs, No worries”, basically, a young man talking about how to avoid using excuses to not DO, but without legs and arms, this differently-abled young man in the video “Does”.  After watching the video the conversation began in Spencer’s class about people opening their eyes to people and youth with disabilities as people with special abilities.  What are you able to do? What do you make excuses for in your life?  Do you or Don’t you…?

What a profound conversation for an 11-year-old boy.  However, this 11-year-old boy has more life experiences than any 40-year-old person does.  He has endured major surgeries, day procedures, exams, needles, pokes, starvation for the sake of surgery and pain that morphine will not remove.  Yet, this young man continues to fight, without excuses!  What DO you do?

Our conversation then turned to Spencer asking me questions about life.  The first question was about how his dad and I felt when we found out he was going to be born with a physical challenge.  Well, that question was easy enough.  We sought out professional help to understand and prepare for Spencer’s arrival.  Although we did not realize that, the professional help would include a recommendation to “terminate the pregnancy”.  Such a sterile way of saying, “end your child’s life”.  I often wondered if that doctor ever tells a woman to “end your child’s life”?  My guess is no.  If the doctor says that, any sane person would be enraged at the thought.  However, I explained to Spencer, in the car that night on the road, that the option of ending his life was NOT an option.  I get it, legally, doctors have to give people that option, but really, when a loving couple show up in your office with supporting parents that should not be the option you lay out for them.

We had several friends who no longer associate with us, but this is not the fault of a differently-abled boy, but a loss for those who choose to close their minds and hearts.  One “friend” who had spent vacations with my family, bbq’d together, rode horses together, and babysat my other children, actually came to my house 2 days after we got the diagnosis of Spina Bifida.  She very callously stood on my doorstep and told me that my husband and I should abort our son because he would “financially bankrupt our family”.  I found this humorous, her husband had just gone through expensive medical treatments; would she have taken him out and put a bullet in his head, as she would do to one of her aging horses?  Still, there she stood, at my door telling me to terminate the life of one of my children.  Although my response was not the most politically correct response, I believe my point was well made.  I asked her to choose which one of her three children she would get rid of.  She looked at me as if I were insane.  I explained to her, that her suggestion is exactly what she asked me to do.  A day later she said to me the words I think are the coldest words I have ever heard from someone I used to call friend, she informed me that she would no longer be able to watch my kids, “because the thought of watching my child drag himself around was more than she could stomach”.  Really?

By the time we passed the rest area at Sprague Lake, Spencer hit me with a question that still takes my breath away, “Why didn’t you abort me?” Wow, even now, it causes tears and my heart pounds.  I would guess that many of you have never had your child ask you that question.  For your sake, I hope your child never asks you a question like that.  I paused, and as we passed under the railroad overpass at Bob Lee Road (amazing what you remember when emotions are involved), I was able to answer Spencer.

We did not abort him for one simple reason.  The only and most important reason is and will always be:  he is our child.  Clear and simple, aborting our child was never an option.  God had given us Spencer for a reason; we would love and protect him.  To explain this to my child was mind blowing.  What child asks you a question like that?

The conversation then went on (as we neared Ritzville and a much-needed stop at Starbucks)… “Mom, even with all the birth defects, how did you know I would make it?”  I explained to Spencer, after I wiped away tears and caught my breath; none of us is given a life guarantee when we are born.  We are given life for a reason, not always known to us, but there is a reason, so we continue on, turning and swaying as life comes at us full force.  And, not finding that magical expiration date stamped on my son, our family continued to love and support Spencer… through all of life’s turns and bumps.

The tears flowed, not only because of the sensitive conversation, but because I have realized, in that moment, that my young baby boy has grown up.  He is sharing more of his story with classmates, allowing people to ask him questions, and through guidance, he is learning how to answer those questions with compassion and always keeping in mind that he may have the ability to change someone’s heart and mind.  He is growing up and maturing, I miss my baby boy, but I am so proud of the confident young man he is becoming.

We continued our drive through tears and more words; we headed home…

To the Kimbro family,
I have so enjoyed Robin’s blogs from a mom’s point of view.  The things I have never understood and can’t even imagined put in front of my face to view and try to digest.  As I write this I can’t even put into words what I personally have learned.  It is so deep and powerful and words just don’t do justice to the impact this boy and his family have made on my family.
As a mother of 4 very healthy children and 3 stepchildren and the President of Youth Outdoors Unlimited I am constantly touched by the Kimbro family.  It gives me a thankfulness that I hadn’t truly understood before.  When I was having my children I always felt bad for families like Spencer’s and how tragic and difficult that life would be.  I had heard parents and grandparents say that these children are gifts.  Really?  How could that be?  It was difficult and sad and there is no way that this could be a blessing or a gift.   Well I was wrong!!!
I will never be so arrogant as to say I fully understand the depth of this situation but I do now get it as much as I am capable.  People having babies are always worried about whether their children will be born with all their fingers and toes and without any other medical conditions that we know is always a possibility.  When your child is born healthy we take a deep breath and move on to what will be incredibly busy years raising youngsters that are constantly into everything.  I think that our brief period of thankfulness unfortunately prevents us from fully understanding what families like the Kimbros deal with every day.  The hours and days in the hospital room and the difficulties of every day life are not something any of us can truly understand unless you’ve been there.  I am thankful that God has brought them into my life as friends and as teachers.  How blessed am I.
Here’s what Spencer, his family and the other youth with Youth Outdoors that we are so blessed to help have taught me personally.
– They are amazing!  Look past the disability and only at the possibilities and you will see what I mean.
– They embrace life in ways you and I can’t even imagine.
– Every day is a gift to them.
– What we would consider incredible hurdles are everyday battles to them and they are determined to overcome these hurdles with as little help as possible with dignity.
– They don’t hide in their rooms because they are having a bad hair day or their clothes aren’t just right.   Now how important do those things seem right now?  Again most of us should be ashamed at the things we complain about.
– They appreciate the small things and completely rejoice in the big things.
– They just want to be treated like every other child and they deserve this.
– Their smiles are incredibly contagious and more so than most kids because you think that it should be so difficult and it is just so genuine.
– The joy on their faces when you don’t see their wheelchair anymore or the fact that they are missing a leg is priceless.
This list can go on and on.
In every child with a disability is someone so incredibly abled and it should make you curious.  My husband and I have spent many hours with Spencer.  He is funny, independent and sometimes way more mature than I am.  His sense of humor and matter of factness about his disability humbles and shames me.  He has continues to teach us each time we have the honor of being around him that our bodies are just vessels, his is different from mine and it is what it is so get over it.  He never judges me when I say something wrong but instead teaches me to say it properly.  I must remind you he is 11.   It is OK for me to ask him about his condition and to ask others.  They really don’t so much mind talking about it they just don’t like us to stare.  and to be direct.
Spencer can’t change the cards he has been dealt.  Yes he would love to have two legs instead of one but he can joke about it and when you get to know him you can laugh with him.  He’s not bitter because he can’t do something that you can do, instead he looks to find a way that he can do it better than you or at least as good.  He is an incredible young man and I am very proud to consider him my friend!!!
With love and admiration,
Cindy  – We love you Spencer and yes my friend – You Are The World’s Greatest  🙂
For more information visit our website at www.youthoutdoorsu.org
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Children With Disabilities – Y.O.U. Mom 6

Children with Disabilities…..

That phrase has always bothered me and annoyed me that all differently-abled people are lumped together.  Understanding the child is the first step to really understanding the condition.  Many people do not take the time necessary to really “know” a differently-abled child.  During our last year with Youth Outdoors Unlimited, we, the Kimbro family, have had the opportunity to meet so many people who really want to know Spencer and other children with special needs.  Many of these people have just “happened” into our lives and most of these individuals have either changed our lives or theirs, as a result of meeting a child with special needs.

Spencer and Jim Burnworth

One such person we are so fortunate to call our friend is Randy Burnworth.  Randy is the son of Jim Burnworth and was asked to film Spencer’s first deer hunt in Wilson Creek, WA with Youth Outdoor Unlimited for his dad’s show on the Outdoor Channel.  Randy is an amazing young man with many great stories of his adventures traveling with his dad filming his t.v. show.  During our weekend in October, Spencer and Randy created a great friendship. The questions were never asked by Randy in relation to Spencer’s condition or the specifics of his physical appearance, but the acceptance of a person happened in the weekend of sitting in the blinds and sharing a campfire at night. One of the most memorable moments for me was watching Randy, at somewhere close to six-foot 4 and Spencer in his 2-foot high titanium wheelchair, rolling down the Wilson Creek gravel road with a bb gun to spend some quality time doing what boys do with bb guns.  Friendships just happen when acceptance just happens.

Spencer was unsuccessful at harvesting a mule deer in Wilson Creek that October weekend, so Randy arranged for Spencer and Dan, Spencer’s dad, to join Randy on a private hunting ground in the Spokane area, hunting for whitetail.  Of course, the understanding was that there is no guarantee of harvesting a buck, but another great weekend of sitting in a blind, at the crack-of-dawn, and bonding with other hunters was all Spencer was really hoping for.  Randy made all the arrangements with the landowners and we headed to Spokane that first weekend in November.

Saturday, November 5th started at 4:30 am, just like his first hunting weekend in Wilson Creek, the early morning wake-up had become normal for the Kimbro family.  Spencer and Dan headed out from my Uncle Scott’s house in Spokane to meet Randy and head to the blind for a day of sitting and waiting for a chance to finally bag his first deer. Similar to the weekends a month earlier, Spencer spent most of the day watching doe after doe come into view, play in the area, walk within feet of him in the pop-up blind and Spencer loved every minute of the day.  Randy and Dan decided to leave for the afternoon to do a bit of work with the crossbow and to grab a sandwich.  The boys gathered back in the blind at 2 in the afternoon and began their afternoon/evening vigil.  Again, doe after doe paraded by the blind, but then, 15 minutes before dark and the end of hunting time for the day, a 3-point buck appeared in front of the blind.  Randy had to talk Spencer out of just shooting right away; after weeks of no shot, Spencer was very antsy.  Randy calmed Spencer down, the buck turned broadside to the blind, the arrow was loaded, camera turned on and the shot was finally made!  It was a kill shot….Spencer had his first buck!!  Months of training and anticipation had paid off.

And then I got the call….. in a hushed, whispered voice I heard the message from my boy, through his tears of joy, “Mom, I got him”.  Those four words still bring me to tears.

This young man had joined our circle of Youth Outdoor friends, and helped in making a dream come true for our “disabled” kid.  Randy was not required to help us out, he didn’t take Spencer hunting because he felt sorry for Spencer, he became a friend because he opened his heart to a young man with a need and the friendship grew.

People just happen into our lives. That has been true so many times in our last 11 years with Spencer.  From the Urology doctor at Deaconess that first day of Spencer’s life that directed us to her friend and colleague at Seattle Children’s Hospital, to the families we meet at Children’s, to the children Spencer mentors and talks to about his condition to help other children cope. We don’t always know what the purpose of the friendship will be or how our lives would have been without this person, but Randy had happened into our lives as a result of meeting Jim Burnworth at the Big Horn Show in Spokane that previous March.  Our meeting was for a purpose and we are eternally grateful to our new friend, Randy, “the cameraman”.

If you know a youth with extraordinary medical challenges or would like to make a financial contribution to our mission to introduce these amazing kids to the outdoors please contact us at you@youthoutdoorsu.org or visit our website: www.youthoutdoorsu.org

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The Heart of Giving

Congratulations to Spencer Kimbro, Justin Ristine and Mikey Williamson for successfully becoming lifelong hunters.  Thank you boys for being Y.O.U. participants.

This is a time of giving and I’m not talking presents.  Youth Outdoors Unlimited is a service organization.  We give, without hesitation because our passion for youth and our love for hunting and fishing.  We have many people make the comments that what we are doing is so great.  I can’t stress enough that the ones who have been blessed are the ones who serve.  What we have learned from these disabled youth is life changing.  Yes we give  much time to our youth but that is The Heart of Giving.  For some donating financially is their gift.  We thank all of you who have helped Y.O.U. financially to continue our mission to introduce Disabled Youth to the outdoors.

We thank our outfitters, Wholesale Sports in Burlington, WA,  Cabela’s in Post Falls, ID and Tri State Outfitters in Moses Lake, WA for their enthusiasm in providing the hunting clothing for Y.O.U.’s youth.  A big thank you to Red Dawn Tactical, Gunwerks and Vortex Optics for their generous support in gun modification.  Thank you to our taxidermists Kevin Miller, Saddle Mountain Taxidermy,  Darin McCain, Taxidermyman and Bob and Zach Kenner of Big Game Taxidermy.  Thank you to our landowners:  Don Kesselring, Troy Breckenridge, Dean Moore and Dallas Kimble, Tom and Cheryl Kammerzell and Steve Jones, Jim Burnworth and Randy Burnworth.  Also to our camera guys courtesy of Media Jungle and Jim and Lorrie Burnworth, Randy and Jeff Burnworth.

These supporters help us in our efforts to provide extraordinary outdoor adventures to our youth.  Please see their personal videos on our web show.  Whether it’s a hunting trip or a fishing trip Y.O.U. wants youth with chronic health conditions to consider a DREAM adventure with us.

Youth Outdoors Unlimited wants to wish everyone a very safe and loving holiday season.

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A Successful Deer Harvest!

From A Mom’s Pointe of View Blog 5

A Successful Deer Harvest!  I know it has been a month since my last post, but we have been busy.  Spencer went on his first deer hunt on October 15th in Wilson Creek, WA. He had been training for 9 months for that day and in turn, so had the rest of us.  This was a family event and the entire family was there to share in Spencer’s big hunt.  He returned the following weekend to Wilson Creek to complete his hunt.  Although he saw a lot of nice mule deer, Spencer was not able to harvest his deer that weekend.  This last weekend, in the Spokane area and thanks to a new friend, Spencer finally harvested his first deer.  A nice 3-point whitetail deer!  

To understand the journey, I would like to reflect on the last 10 months with Youth Outdoors Unlimited.  This adventure began in January 2011.  Our family was driving somewhere, I cannot even recall where exactly, but my daughter Sydney, received a call from long-time friend, Whitney Sell.  Whitney was wondering if we would be willing to let a local group take Spencer on a hunt.  My first reaction was, “What are you talking about?”  I turned to Spencer and asked him if he would be interested in hunting.  Of course, his reaction was a loud and exuberant “YES!”  His sister, Skylar, has always been an outdoorsy girl and wanted to do hunters education for a possibility to hunt with her dad in the fall, so we figured both Skylar and Spencer could go together, this would work out perfect.
So, “done”, some group of people in Moses Lake, who we don’t know, never met and really had no idea what they were talking about, were going to take my wheelchair-bound son hunting… with a gun…. somewhere.  Sounds like a great plan to me.

A few days after the initial phone call, I received another phone call, this time from Cindy Carpenter.  You need to understand the confusion, my maiden name is Carpenter and I have a sister named Cyndi.  Therefore, you can imagine my confusion when Cindy calls and says she would like to meet the family and discuss the plans with Spencer, Dan and I. Cindy and I talk about this now and laugh a lot at my initial thoughts.  “Who are these people and why do they want to come to my house and talk to us?”  Cindy was persistent and wanted to meet right away… a bit pushy, but ok.  Isn’t hunting season in October, why do we need to meet immediately?  I get it now, but in January and early February, I really didn’t understand.

The crew from Youth Outdoors Unlimited showed up at my house to meet with us, the only one I recognized is Don Sell and we had really never talked.  We knew each other from High School soccer and our girls, but we really did not know anything about our families and lives. This was strange.  So, we talk and they ask to take pictures, Dan and I do still not understand the depth of this group of people.  I am still thinking these people are very serious about meeting a kid in a wheelchair, 8 months before hunting season.  What do they really want?
Within two weeks of this meeting, I was beginning to understand what this group wanted. They are a group of avid hunters with a great love of the outdoors and children.  But why my son, why disabled kids.  None of the group I had met had a disabled child.  Why now and why my son?  Spencer didn’t care why, all he knew was that he was important to a group of people and these people were going to take him hunting.  We had discussed taking Spencer hunting, but the logistics of where to take him in a wheelchair, how to access areas and laws we would need to know to make sure Spencer could hunt with his dad was overwhelming.  This group was all about taking care of the logistics and allowing the differently-abled child hunt with his dad in a dream hunt.  Cool!  You bet, sign us up.   Careful what you wish for…

Life with Youth Outdoors Unlimited became a whirlwind of “let’s get going”.  There were public meetings, radio recordings, videos to be made, organizations to meet and the Auction in March to prepare for.  Excuse me?  Here we go….  Spencer will be the spokesperson for the organization, the face of differently-abled children in the outdoors.Photos would need to be taken; he would need to make appearances at the Outdoor show in Spokane, record messages for his video to be shown at the auction.  We signed Spencer and Skylar up for Hunter’s safety class in April, met with organizations to discuss our work and receive donations; we planned for training in Wilson Creek to give the boys an opportunity to shoot the rifles at targets.

We showed up at the Big Horn Show in Spokane so that Spencer could meet some of the people  Cindy had set up for us.  Spence.  The first person we met, before we got to the booth, was Pete Marion with the Post Falls, Idaho Cabela’s store.  He spoke with Spencer and offered to outfit Spencer for his dream hunt. (In September, we traveled to Cabela’s and Pete fulfilled his promise and completely outfitted Spencer – Thank you Pete)  went wheeling in and zipped right to Cindy, Don and Joe.  The rest of the family tried to keep up, as usual, with Spencer’s excitement and enthusiasm.  Cindy took Spencer, and the rest of the Kimbro family around the show.

Spencer met Ron Knapp, with the Mule Deer foundation; we had a good conversation and Ron signed Spencer up as a member of the Mule Deer Foundation and is sponsored by Ron.  On to more meet and greets.  Spencer met members of the Rocky Mountain Elks and they made tentative plans to bring Spencer back up to Spokane to hang out with them, Spencer loved this show.  We met Aaron with Gunwerks, who talked about loaning a rifle for the organization to use for the youth hunts.  Spencer was whirling around with Cindy and Don meeting all sorts of outdoor vendors who are wanting to help out kids with illnesses or disabilities.  Dan and I were really getting the meaning of this group of people who showed up in our lives in Early February… that day Y.O.U. opened the eyes of many other outdoorsman and opened up a world of opportunity for these kids.  As we were cruising the aisles and meeting people, Spencer and his sister stop to play the laser shooting game. Watching two of my kids pick up the rifle and aim was amazing. I could see they were both naturals and this was going to be an amazing journey and we were only into March 2011

During his day at the outdoor show, Spencer met Jim Burnworth, a local outdoorsman, from the Outdoor Channel’s Western Extreme, among other shows.  Spencer got a signed photo and a conversation with a hunter who is also willing to help the Youth Outdoors Unlimited mission.  This meeting changed the future of Spencer’s dream hunting trip.  Months later Spencer will get to spend time with his new friend, Randy Burnworth, and ultimately harvest his first deer.

The adventure continues with the Auction, Hunters education, training days, fundraisers, more training and finally the plan for the big hunt… stay tuned…..

Robin,  “Spencer’s Mom”

To find out more information about this great organization, visit their website at www.youthoutdoorsu.org.  If you have a child with an extraordinary medical condition that would like to experience the great world of hunting and fishing please check them out!

Posted in Deer Hunts, Disabled Youth, donate, Fishing, Hunting, hunting trip, non profit, Spina Bifida, sponsor children, washington | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

11 Year Old Hunter With One Arm Shoots His First Buck!

Justin Ristine,

Our mission with Youth Outdoors Unlimited, Y.O.U . a Central Washington based 501(c)3  non-profit corporation started with a passion for helping some youth dealing with extraordinary medical conditions enjoy the great world of hunting and fishing.  Along with that mission we now know how important it is for all of us to look past a disability and look at only the possibilities and accomplishments these incredible youth accomplish and overcome every day!
 
Justin came to Youth Outdoors Unlimited in March of 2011 with an interest in being able to hunt with his dad.   His parents had enrolled him in a hunter’s education class although his mother, Jennifer, was pretty hesitant about Justin hunting because he only had one arm.  While in the hunter’s ed class, Justin’s family met another disabled youth, Mikey Williamson, who was taking his class and was already preparing for his hunting trip with Y.O.U.  This class is the first thing that Youth Outdoors Unlimited asks a youth to do if they have a desire to apply for a hunting trip.  Not only is this a requirement to get your hunting license, but it also helps our directors decide which youth are ready for a hunting adventure and which ones aren’t.  As we all know this is not about age but about the desire and cognitive ability to become a safe and ethical hunter.  Mikey’s mother shared the brochure from Youth Outdoors with Justin’s mother and we soon connected. 
 
After Justin very successfully passed his class, Y.O.U. made arrangements for Justin to come to Central Washington for his first shooting training, one of four.    Well balanced gun rests and modified rifles are key for youth missing limbs or who shoot from a wheelchair as they don’t have the same stability as most youth.  Justin was hesitant at first but with hours of one on one coaching from hunt coordinator, Joe Carpenter, Justin soon became confident in handling the Remington 700 243 rifle that he would be hunting with.  By the last training Justin was calling out shots and with incredible success in his accuracy.  Justin is a perfectionist and we were very confident in his ability to make a clean shot during his hunt.    Read more about Justin’s hunt on our website http://www.youthoutdoorsu.org/justins-adventures.html .
Justin’s hunt took place in Colfax, WA on private property offered up to Youth Outdoors Unlimited for one of our disabled youth.  Tom and Cheryl Kammerzell, owners of Maple K Farms, LLC were incredible.  Their instant love and connection with Justin was heart warming and showed through their hard work of preparation and communication to Youth Outdoors Hunt Coordinator, Joe Carpenter.  We enjoyed a great dinner and conversation around the campfire the night before Justin’s hunt as we talked about how incredible this young man was. 

Opening day the guys all headed to the blind that had been built and set on this property for months before Justin’s Hunt and the spotting crew Curt and Cindy headed to the hillside behind the hunting area to spot and prepare Justin for what deer movement was taking place.    These blinds (lumber donated by ProBuild)  are critical for a youth with a disability.  Not only comfort but for the extended equipment necessary for stability.

 

Hunt team in the blind  including Justin, was his dad Roy, his hunting guide Joe and his cameraman Jeff Burnworth.  The wait was on!  We all know the patience needed in hunting and Justin soon learned the hours of waiting and watching that would be necessary to become a successful hunter.  It would not be about the harvest of the animal but the hours of conversation with his hunting mates, the hours around the campfire and the excitement of that elusive buck.  Day one was filled with excitement and as they guys left the blind at the end of the day they talked about what tomorrow might bring. 

First day brought excitement and the opportunity to see lots of deer movement but no opportunity to get that buck that Justin had been dreaming of all year.  It was all good!  The time with his parents in deer camp and hanging out with his new hunting family  Youth Outdoors Unlimited was honored to teach Justin what hunting is all about.  It is the time with your family and friends around the campfire or in the blind enjoying the outdoors. 

Day two and the last day of Justin’s hunt brought another day of excitement.  We were all tired and the early morning heading for the blind is all about the experience.  This morning had some weather not necessarily prime for hunting.  The fog set in and as Justin and his hunt team sat in the blind for the morning had not seen any deer movement.  They took a break after 6 hours of watching to head back to camp and get some much needed breakfast.  Joe talked with Justin again about the fact that hunting is not about a kill but had he had the trip of a lifetime.  Justin was excited and prepared for the fact that he may not get that opportunity all hunters hope for.  He was now a lifelong hunter and would look forward to the hunting season each year from now on. 

Day two, afternoon in the blind.  The weather had cleared up and the guys visited recounting the weekend and how great it was.   The deer weren’t moving and as we all waited for shooting hours to end, Wait!!!  On the hillside out the front blind window a buck walks out.  Justin didn’t have a clear shot so they waited to see if he’d move out to a shootable position.  Joe asked me if I could see this buck.  I had to move my position across the hillside to get a different view.  Yes, I had the buck in my binoculars and a second buck appears.  Now the hearts are pounding!!!!  Justin was ready and waiting for the OK from Joe that this buck was legal and he could take the shot.  Doing just like Joe had taught him:  Don’t look at the deer, pick the vital spot and get ready.  Like a lifelong experienced hunter Joe gave Justin the OK that this yes was the buck he could shoot and Boom….  That deer dropped!  Justin had made a clean shot through the heart  and as the congratulations rang and the tears from his Y.O.U. family fell we all got to the hillside where this 11 year old boy with one arm had completed the hunt of a lifetime. 

 

Youth Outdoors Unlimited, Y.O.U. is so incredibly proud to be a part of Justin’s first hunting experience.  He is the perfect example of the possibilities inspit of the disabilities.  We have other youth like Justin that we are honored to introduce to the great world of hunting and fishing.  Y.O.U. is a Central Washington based 501(c)3 non-profit corporation which takes youth diagnosed with a life threatening illness or physical disability on DREAM outdoor adventures. 

Thank you’s are a must for those companies that support Youth Outdoors Unlimited and our Youth.  Wholesale Sports in Burlington Washington outfitted Justing from head to toe.  Thank you Jay and your crew for providing a coat, bibs, boots, gloves, hats and a gear bag for Justin for his hunt.  He loved it and your company makes it easier for us to help more youth.  Also thank you to Bob Kenner, taxidermist in Moses Lake, WA who is doing a shoulder mount for Justin.   A big thank you to the Mule Deer Foundation who donated the 243 rifle to Youth Outdoors and to Aaron Davidson of Gunwerks and Paul Neese of Vortex Optics for the extensive gun modification which was done to make this rifle comfortable and safe for Justin to hunt with.  This rifle will remain in the Y.O.U. organization for future youth like Justin to hunt with.  Thank you again to Tom and Cheryl Kammerzell, property owners in Colfax, WA for opening your hearts and your property to our youth.  You are amazing and we are so honored to consider you both part of the Y.O.U. family!  Youth Outdoors Unlimited has funded the processing of Justin’s deer meat for the family to enjoy.   Follow Justin under the follow our youth tab on our website or click here.

If you would like more information or would like to make a financial contribution to help us on our mission to introduce these differently-abled youth to the outdoors please either visit our website at www.youthoutdoorsu.org or email us at you@youthoutdoors.com.  Wish It, Dream It, Do It!!!  Justin’s story was recently featured Justin’s story was recently featured on Huntinglife.com’s blog  http://www.huntinglife.com/blog/detail/justin-ristines-adventure-with-youth-outdoors-unlimited

 

 

Posted in cronic health conditions, Deer Hunts, Disabled Youth, donate, Elk Hunts, Fishing, fishing trip, Hunting, hunting trip, medical fragile, non profit, special needs camps, special needs trips, Spina Bifida, sponsor a special need child, sponsor children, trips, Turkey Hunts, Uncategorized, washington | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment