Area program helps ill children fulfill their wish

Published 5:30 pm Tuesday, January 15, 2013

     Saturday was a little different at the Georgia-Pacific Monticello mill, but the fellowship and camaraderie enjoyed by those participating in the Catch-A-Wish wish fulfillment event were the same.

     Since 2002, with the exception of one year, the mill in January has hosted a seriously ill child and his family for a weekend of outdoors activity. The stated purpose of the weekend is to provide a brief respite from whatever medical treatment and related troubles the family is experiencing.

     An added benefit of the annual outings is allowing the family to make new friends at the mill and to experience God’s wonders in the great outdoors. Wish fulfillment recipients and their families are given a camouflaged Bible and other gifts as mementoes of their time together.

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     Until this year, all the Catch-A-Dream events hosted at the mill have been hunting adventures. This year’s participant, 8-year-old Sean Dailey, who has a malignant brainstem tumor, requested a fishing adventure.

     As such, the audience for the annual Saturday afternoon lunch was a little smaller. CAD Executive Director Dr. Marty Brunson called the weekend a “smaller, intimate gathering.”

     “We’re finding it to be a lot simpler equation, but it works well,” Brunson said of fishing adventures.

     A reason for the smaller lunch crowd is that there were no “dogs” this year.

     On previous hunting adventures, mill employees volunteer their time on the weekend to serve as “dogs.” The “dogs” moved through the woods to encourage deer to move, thus increasing the chances of wish recipient finding one to take.

     Including the ones in Monticello, Catch-A-Dream has granted more than 440 outdoors-related wishes to children since its inception.

     The organization was the idea of Brookhaven’s Bruce Brady, who thought of it in somewhat of a response to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. That organization also aims to help seriously ill children, but does not handle hunting and similar outdoors-related wishes.

     Brady, who died in 2000, was an avid outdoorsman, sculptor and author. Many of his books and sculptures have homes in Brookhaven and across the country. Those serve as a physical reminders of his talent and abilities.

     The values and traditions that are carried on through the Catch-A-Dream are a less tangible, but are no less an integral and important part of his legacy. Whether part of a group that is large or small, anyone who has ever participated in a Catch-A-Dream event will agree.