Fulfilling A Dream

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, January 8, 2012

MONTICELLO – The buck on the cake wasn’tthe only one Jacob Parsons got during his trip to Mississippi.

    As the 11-year-old Catch-A-Dream wish recipient from West Virginia,family members and visitors enjoyed lunch Saturday atGeorgia-Pacific, it looked like the 12-point plastic buck from thedesert cake and a big doe the boy shot on his first hunting dayThursday would be the only deer taken during the journey.

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    “I promised he’d get a buck today,” said Parsons’ mother Julie witha laugh as he counted the points on the toy in between signingautograph for his G-P mill hunting helpers and visiting with othersduring the lunch break.

    Despite the limited success, which included shooting the doe andgetting a shot at a buck, Catch-A-Dream trip organizers remainedoptimistic during lunch that Parsons would get a buck before he andhis family left to return to St. Albans, W.Va., on Sunday.

    “The day’s not over,” said Catch-A-Dream Project Manager BrianChisholm while recalling the hunting adventure to that point andhanding out gifts and mementos to Parsons family members.

    Chisholm’s optimism paid off as Jacob shot an eight-point duringtheir last outing Saturday afternoon.

    Jacob has spinal astrocytoma, a malignant tumor inside his spinalcord. The cancer was discovered when Jacob was 8 after he startedexperiencing back pain and was falling down during normalactivities.

    The boy has undergone two difficult surgeries to remove the cancerand completed 15 months of chemotherapy in August. Since the canceris such a rare form, doctors are unsure of Jacob’s prognosis.

    Nevertheless, his recovery from the surgeries has been surprising.After both, he was expected to be paralyzed.

    Family members, though, shared stories of how Jacob was able towalk across his classroom two months after his first surgery. Afterhis second, which was needed after the cancer came back, he waswiggling his toes while returning from the Intensive Care Unit andwas able to walk out of the hospital when he was discharged.

    On Saturday, Jacob moved over the G-P mill grounds with only aslight limp.

    Julie Parsons described the family’s time in Mississippi as”amazing.”

    “I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything,” she said. “It hasbeen great.”

    Jacob Parsons’ was the 396th outdoors experience granted by theCatch-A-Dream program that was the vision of Brookhaven’s BruceBrady. After Brady’s death in 2000, the program was founded and theCatch-A-Dream Foundation formally chartered in 2003.

    Brady’s son and co-founder Bruce Brady Jr. was present forSaturday’s activities.

    Brady said Catch-A-Dream has had a huge impact and been a blessingfor not only the adventure recipients but all involved. DespiteJacob’s not getting a buck to that point Saturday, Brady saidenjoying the outdoors and the fellowship made the triprewarding.

    “Today has been a success in all regards,” Brady said.

    Chisholm echoed Brady’s comments.

    “We receive such as blessing from doing this,” he said.

    Chisholm also expressed appreciation to Georgia-Pacific and othersupporting partners who help make Catch-A-Dream adventurespossible.

    “Without you, we’d have no place to send these families on thesetrips,” Chisholm said.

    Georgia-Pacific Vice President and Monticello Mill Manager BrentCollins said Catch-A-Dream provides “a great outdoors experience”to the children. Hunting is not allowed on mill property, butCollins said special permission was granted for Jacob’s trip.

    “We hope that this weekend Jacob will make lots of new friends hereat G-P and memories to cherish forever,” Collins said.

    It may have taken until the last trip into the woods, but Jacob gotthe prize he was after. His mother even got a hint that the tripwould be successful.

    As Julie Parsons and her children Cole, 16; Alan, 14; and Emma, 9,were returning from their fishing trip to Swan Creek while fatherJeff hunted with Jacob, she spotted a lucky rainbow that appearedto end at Georgia-Pacific. In the end, her promise of a Saturdaybuck for Jacob was twice fulfilled.