Thanks to the Freeburg VFW Post 7074, some wounded warriors will be able to hunt, fish or just commune with nature in places where people with disabilities normally wouldn’t be able to go.
The VFW post helped by raising $14,000 to buy an all-terrain wheelchair, which is being donated to Camp Hope near Farmington Mo.
Camp Hope is on the Chris Neal Farm. Neal, a U.S. Marine, was 23 in 2006 when he died in action in Iraq. His parents, William “Mike” and Galia Neal, started the farm in 2007 as a special place where veterans with combat wounds or disabilities could shoot skeet, hunt turkeys or deer, fish or just explore the outdoors without having to worry about any limitations.
It now has a guest lodge on 250 acres with access to another 1,250 acres.
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One of the Freeburg fundraisers, John Gray, credited fellow member Al Schnur as being the ramrod of the project. But Schnur said it was a joint effort.
“We understood that they were in need of a wheelchair down there,” Schnur said. “We just wanted to help.”
Gray said the Freeburg post is a small one.
“We have about 99 people on the roster but we have maybe 12 to 14 to 16 people at any given meeting,” Gray said.
Those were the core of the people raising the money over about a two-year span, Schnur said.
The post held barbecues, sold raffle tickets and took donations for the wheelchair.
Schnur said the new machine is a sight to see, and even more fun to use.
A chair that can haul a person with disabilities through some tough terrain has to be even tougher than the terrain.
“It comes with tracks (like a bulldozer) on each side,” Schnur said “It looks like a tank. It can go practically anyplace, it seems like.”
The chair is manufactured in Wisconsin and the post bought it from a dealer in Effingham, who delivered it to Freeburg.
Naturally the guys had to try it out.
“I rode in it,” Schnur said. “It will go over a curb with no problem at all.
Some of the Freeburg post members took the wheelchair to Camp Hope on Saturday.
You can see more about Camp Hope online at www.chrisnealfarm.com. The ranch advertises that it is “Honoring our fallen by helping our wounded.” It stresses the bonding and healing that can take place outdoors as wounded veterans are surrounded by those who know what they went through.
It is open to combat-wounded veterans from the war on terror, and all services are free.