Memorial turkey hunt raises $21,000 for scholarship funds

Published 3:57 pm Tuesday, April 11, 2023

MEADVILLE — Adrian Newell said this weekend was overwhelming with the support of the Kaytlyn Leigh Smith Memorial Turkey Hunt Saturday. She said $21,000 was raised for scholarships through donations, sponsorships, auction and raffle tickets at the event. 

Shannon Zimmerman wanted to honor her daughter Kaytlyn Smith with the memorial turkey hunt. Smith was a therapist at Kings Daughters Medical Center in Brookhaven and loved softball, hunting and fishing.

She was 22 when she died in July 2022 but Zimmerman wanted to keep her spirit alive. The memorial turkey hunt raised money to create scholarships for students at Franklin County High School and the Co-Lin Respiratory Therapy program. Smith and Newell worked together as respiratory therapists. 

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“I never imagined the hunt would do this well,” Newell said. “She was my brother’s girlfriend for five to six years. I am a respiratory therapist and she wanted to follow me and see what it was like. She went through the program at Co-Lin and was an excellent student. Smart and brilliant. Everything came easier to her, I don’t think she ever had to study. She was a part of our family for a while.” 

A few girls from Franklin County High School applied for the scholarship. Newell said they would present the awards on May 9, 2023 and hopes the scholarship grows in size and involvement. 

The turkey hunt drew 52 entries and of those 52 entries, seven ended up with a turkey despite drenching rains and flooding. 

It is possible the turkey hunt would become an annual event. The Lincoln Outfit performed for the crowd of people. In an auction, a group of guys got together and decided to run up the bid on a call featuring a picture of Kaytlyn. 

The winning bid for the call was $4,500 which the men split the costs. They proceeded to present the call to Katyln’s dad Chad Smith. Newell said it was emotional. 

“It was a cool thing they did and the fact they could give that much,” she said. “The weekend was a little emotional. It still doesn’t seem real. It was a roller coaster but also exciting to see the hunters eager to be a part of it. It was very rewarding and it was all of the emotions.” 

Hunters competed to bring the best turkey for the day and were judged on scores. A turkey’s score was determined by their weight times spur length times main beard. 

In the youth division, Brantley Holland earned a score of 60.125, Bryden Sullivan finished with a score of 53.40 and Ridge Ross took third with a score of 50.425. 

Maddie Welch won the adult division with a score of 58.825 while Cody Jeffus finished second with 58.525. Cody Newman finished third with a score of 47.175. Welch said the day was filled with love and laughter and hopes to be a part of it again. She also thanked God for giving her the chance to do the things she loves. 

“I didn’t know Kaytlyn but it was evident how loved she was. To witness all of the people who loved and cared for her come together and create such a beautiful way to remember her and honor her, they did an incredible job,” Welch said. “You could tell how much this meant to the family and friends. The hunt itself was great. It was a slow start but Sam Cowart and I finally ended up in the perfect spot with the perfect bird. It was definitely a meaningful hunt and I felt honored to be a part of it.”