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Young boy enjoys Catch-A-Dream hunt

Kendall Burnett bagged a doe on his first deer huntSaturday.

“I shot at it and expected it to run out the other side of myscope, but nobody saw it, so we thought I hit it,” said Kendall,with blood and a beaming smile on his face as he recounts hishunter’s story. “I kept shooting at does just in case I didn’t hitit.”

Kendall’s hunting trip was made possible through theCatch-A-Dream program, which fulfills outdoor dreams for illchildren.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” said Kendall’s mother, June, whosaid Kendall had always wanted to hunt ever since he learned toshoot. Kendall had dove hunted twice before, but never hunted biggame until now. “It’s always been his passion.”

While Kendall and his family from Palmer Lake, Colo. enjoyed hismemorable first hunt like other boys his age, the weekend hosted byGeorgia Pacific’s Monticello mill had a bittersweet semblance.

Fourteen-year-old Kendall Burnett was diagnosed with cysticfibrosis — a life-threatening disease that affects the lungs ofits victim — at age seven. He has been in and out of hospitals andhas even had a surgery to remove part of his lung to slow thedisease.

Kendall, whose wish was to hunt big game, came to Monticellothrough the Catch-A-Dream.

Georgia Pacific’s Monticello mill offered Catch-A-Dream itsfacilities and hunting grounds to host Kendall, his parents and hisolder sister Kisa for the weekend. The event was coordinated by themill’s senior vice president Asa Hardison.

“We hosted a family for Catch-A-Dream two years ago,” saidGeorgia Pacific’s public relations officer Johnnie Carlisle. “Wecalled them (Catch-A-Dream) last year and told them we would liketo host another hunt,” she said, adding that Catch-A-Dream soon hada family for the mill to host.

The Burnetts were supposed to come in January of 2002, butbecause of complications from Kendall’s illness, the trip had to becancelled, according to June Burnett.

Founded by Bruce Brady Sr. in Mississippi in 2000 as a result ofthe Make-A-Wish Foundation’s adoption of policies which precludes achild from making a wish involving hunting or sport-shootingequipment, the Catch-A-Dream foundation is geared for the purposeof giving kids outdoor experiences.

Kendall’s father, Kenneth, said they first became aware ofCatch-A-Dream in an advertisement when he and Kendall were watchinga program on an outdoors channel.

“I went to their website and filled out an application,” saidKenneth Burnett, who continued by saying that members fromCatch-A-Dream began keeping in close contact with the family.

“I was excited and ready to go,” said Kendall.

Kendall and his family arrived Thursday, and first used aRemmington Model 7 to target practice.

“He could fire that gun faster than anything,” saidCatch-A-Dream’s Dr. Marty Brunson.

Kendall and his hunting team, consisting of his father and anumber of ‘dogs,’ who were people that helped make sure Kendallencountered a deer, went hunting much of Friday and Saturday. Aftershooting his doe Saturday morning, Kendall came back to the mill’soutdoor pavilion, where everyone enjoyed a fish meal provided bythe mill’s Catfish Cooking Team.

Dr. Brunson then presented Kendall with a plaque, inscribed witha Bible verse and designating him as a Catch-A-Dream juniorpartner.

Brunson also gave him the nickname “Machine Gun Burnett,”reflecting his skill in quick shooting. Kendall in turn presentedplaques to other people that helped put the weekend together. Dr.Brunson then made one final presentation to Kendall as a gift –the Remmington Model 7 he had used on the hunt.

After the ceremonies, Kendall and his team went back on thetrail. They are to fly back to Colorado Sunday afternoon.

“I want to thank you all for coming. This has been one of thebest experiences of my life, killing my first deer. Thank you,”Kendall told the crowd.

“God is awesome and has given us a glimpse of how precious lifeis,” said June Burnett. “We appreciate every day. No matter howmany years he has, they’re going to be good years, and people likethis help make that special.”