10 Year Old Ryan Markland from Livonia MI suffers from Friedreich's Ataxia Hyper-trophic Cardiomyopathy which is a form of Muscular Dystrophy. Ryan is progressively getting worse and has numerous doctor visits this month and next to determine the best solution, which will probably include placing a rod along side his back to aid his spine, in the next few months. Ryan is somewhat mobile yet, but his mom tells me that things don't look good in the near future and Ryan will more than likely become permanently wheel chair bound by this time next year. Currently doctors are worried about his heart also.
Ryan LOVES to fish and wants to go Deep Sea Fishing! Sometimes things just happen for a reason and shortly before meeting Ryan, Benefit4Kids received an email from a Captain Brian Cristy from Cope May, New Jersey offering up a deep sea fishing trip! Plans are still being made as I type this, but we will probably be sending Ryan and his family to New Jersey sometime in mid May to fish for Stripers and Drum. Then they will spend a day at Baures Preserve, which is a private fishing pond not very far from Cape May, fishing for a variety of fish!
Just as they always do, this trip is coming together just great! Ryan and his family will be flying out of Detroit on May 15th and headed for Philly, where they pick up there rental car and make the drive to Ocean City, New Jersey. There they will meet with Captain Brian Christy as he shows them his Beach House in Ocean City where Ryan and his family will be spending the week!
They will be Deep Sea Fishing for Drum and Stripers, along with taking a trip to Baures Pond, which is a stock fishing pond to enjoy another day of what Ryan LOVES to do.... FISH!!! Throughout the week, they will be sight seeing around the Ocean City New Jersey area, visiting a local Zoo, relaxing in the sun and sand, and reeling in trophy Drum, Stripers, Striped Bass, Trout, etc!
A huge THANK YOU goes out to Captain Brian Christy who has went above and beyond the call of duty by donating not only his fishing trip and beach house, but also gathering up donations and support from local businesses to take care of the family while they are there! He is in the middle of getting a website made up, but when he does I will post it for everyone to see just what kind of people help us out and believe in what we do! Thank you Brian for your Donation and kindness to helping Ryan realize live his dream!!!
A few final plans are left to be made but the trip is set and May 15th - 19th 2006 will find yet another Wish Kid living their Dream because of our generous supporters like yourself!
Well after a short plane delay due to weather this morning, Ryan and his family are safely in Ocean City New Jersey getting ready to live his dream of going Deep Sea Fishing!
A HUGE THANK YOU goes out to Captain Brian Christy for helping us out so much with this trip! Captain Brian is going to be taking Ryan and his mom out to sea tomorrow morning fishing for Stripers and Drum, and Brian tells me the big fish are in and hungry! Ryan will also be fishing at Bauer’s Pond, a locally owned stocked fishing pond this week, thanks to Joe Bauer. The family will also be taking in the sights of the NJ coast, while staying in Captain Brian's Beach house all weekend and also visiting a local zoo and aquarium!
Late last night the phone rings and on the other end is a very happy and tired Captain Brain Christy of FreeSpool Fishing Charters. Captain Brian was finally on his way home after dropping Ryan and his mom off at the beach house after a fun filled, and VERY SUCCESSFUL day in the Delaware Bay Deep Sea Fishing! Brian said everything was a complete success and some of the biggest fish he's seen come into a boat in a long time were landed yesterday after Ryan fought them till they gave up! Stripers ranged from 26 - 32 Pounds and Ryan had a smile on his face the entire time!!! The action never stopped and numerous fish were caught.
The family was going to travel to a local zoo today, sight see around Ocean City New Jersey and enjoy the day together, then tomorrow they are off fishing again either back onto Captain Brian’s boat as a surprise to try their luck at Flounder fishing, or over to Bauer’s Pond, which is a local stocked pond with all kinds of fish for Ryan to catch all day long!
Ryan and his family had a great time and couldn't stop thanking us for everything we did. This trip wouldn't have been possible without the help of Captain Brian Christy of Free Spool SportFishing! He is the one who deserves all the credit for making Ryan's dream come true by taking Ryan and his family fishing, allowing them to stay at his beach house, taking time out of his day to gather community support in the Cape May NJ area by gathering gift certificates from local restaurants so the family could eat free, etc. It is because of guys like Captain Brian, and all of you that support us 100%, we are able to put the smiles on the faces of these kids such as you see on Ryan's face below!
On a sad note, Ryan is going through a real rough time right now, as he does each summer from what I understand. Doctors can't figure it out and Ryan gets real sick to his stomach, can't hold any food down, and gets very dehydrated. Ryan has been in and out of the hospital since he got back from NJ and could really use everyone's prayers right now. He also faces a risky surgery soon to allow him to sit upright which is needed to reduce stress and trouble with his heart! Please keep Ryan in your prayers!
The experience of a lifetime: Michigan boy visits Kenai Peninsula, reunited with doctor
By Mike Nesper | Peninsula Clarion
Having battled cancer most of his life, when 14-year-old Kevin Hertz's pediatric oncologist, Merlin Hamry, told him he was moving to Alaska, Kevin and his family were devastated. Hamry had a well-established rapport with Kevin and treated him for eight years after Kevin was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age three.
So when a second tumor developed in Kevin's brain at age 12, he and his family were without Hamry's familiar face. Prior to leaving Michigan for the Last Frontier, Hamry told Kevin to take a fishing trip and come visit him.
Thanks to Benefit 4 Kids, a nonprofit organization that grants outdoor life wishes to children with life-threatening or life-limiting illnesses, Kevin was reunited with his former doctor.
"Wow. How do you explain a place that beautiful?" said Kevin's mom, Karen. "We want to go back."
Kevin, along with his parents and brother, left their Sterling Heights, MI home August 3 and spent a week in Alaska.
Kevin and his family first visited the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in Portage.
"That place was just amazing," Karen said.
The Hertzs then went to Soldotna and fished for two days on the Kenai River.
"It was thrilling," Karen said. "We did really, really well in the fishing department."
Kevin and his family caught silver and king salmon, Dolly Varden's and rainbow trout, said Val Early, of Early's Lodge, where the Hertz family stayed.
"I caught a lot of fish," Kevin said.
"They were a lot of fun to have," Val said. "We had a great time."
During his time in Soldotna, Kevin got a visit from his former doctor and the two fished together, fulfilling Kevin's plan to visit Alaska and his ex-oncologist.
"He's a very, very nice doctor," Karen said.
The Hertzs didn't stay in Soldotna long. After two days of fishing, they were off to Seward for a behind-the-scenes tour of the SeaLife Center, where Kevin was able to touch an octopus, dissect a squid and feed a puffin.
Kevin's final adventure was had in Whittier, where he and his family enjoyed a cruise of Prince William Sound. Kevin was able to hold a piece of a glacier while on the cruise.
Karen said Prince William Sound was breathtaking.
"We couldn't ask for a better trip," she said. "The best trip we've ever had."
After being home for just over two weeks, Karen said the trip is still fresh in her mind.
"I still beam when I talk about Alaska," she said.
"It was awesome," Kevin said. "I definitely want to go back again."
Kevin said he started saving all of his change so he can visit Alaska again in the future.
Karen said Benefit 4 Kids arranged the entire trip, which was a nice break in her typical routine.
"When your child is sick, everything is on you," she said. "They took that responsibility away from us."
"It's a really rewarding experience," Val said about being involved in Kevin's trip. "It's always nice to give back."
Val said she was thrilled to be a part of building memories for years to come for Kevin and his family.
"I was really happy that we had the opportunity to help," Val said. "I had a really nice time with him."
Mike Nesper can be reached at email@example.com.
"What an amazing trip! Ed was fantastic and put together an incredible trip for Bridger. He will never forget this experience and his love for life and the outdoors will be with him forever! I'll give you a run down of how it went and attach some photos. I'll also make some hard copies of pictures and send them to you as soon as possible.
Day one: We flew into Anchorage and Ed met us at the airport with the motor home, We picked up some groceries and then drove down to Portage Glacier to our first camp.
Day two: Ed picked us up at Portage with his boat and we made our way to Whittier by way of a 3 mile long tunnel (an experience in its own right) put the boat in at the marina and headed out to look for Chum Salmon. On the way out to the fishing grounds we came across a pod of Minki whales and enjoyed them and the beautiful scenery. After a 1 hr boat ride, we started to troll for Salmon and it didn't take long before we started to hook up on Chum Salmon and had a great time. In one area we saw about 30 Bald Eagles feeding on salmon all around us. After a few hours of salmon we went to a new area to fish the bottom and we were able to catch many Greenling and a few rockfish. What a great start. We then put the boat back on the trailer and made our way back to camp. The boys had to hike up to a snow cave along the way that was beautiful. We got back in the motor home and drove to Seward where we spent the night next to the ocean.
Day Three: Woke early and walked along the beach and saw our first Sea Otter and watched him play in the ocean for a while then went and found Ed at the marina to start the next day of fishing. Another hour boat ride with amazing scenery and we started to troll for Silver Salmon. We started to pick up fish here and there and Bridger was in heaven. As we trolled near shore, Bridger caught a black Rockfish about 5 lbs and thought he might want to get serious about them in the afternoon. After a few more Silvers and another encounter with a whale, Bridger talked us all into fishing for Rockfish. What a great idea that turned out to be. We moved to a new area and started to jig for Rockfish and caught 5 pounders as fast as we wanted. We also started to drop a big jig to the bottom and started to hook up on large Ling cod. Up to 40 Lbs!!! What an amazing creature. We practiced catch and release for the majority of the afternoon and had a ball on some big fish. After all that we made the long drive to Homer.
Day Four: We woke early and fished the Homer fishing hole on our own and managed to land 6 King salmon of about 15-25 lbs on our own (The big one got away). We then got on the water taxi to Seldovia that took us buy bird Island with many varieties of birds, Sea Lions, Otters, and again some amazing scenery. We got checked into our hotel in Seldovia and then decided to try our hand at some King salmon in Seldovia slough that afternoon. We managed to land 2 about 30 and 35 lbs. They are progressively getting bigger!
Day Five: We Got on the boat with Bill and Bob to fish for Halibut and had a wonderful day of catching one after another of delicious bottom fish. We kept enough to fill a cooler and had a great time doing it. The best part is, none of us got seasick. After cleaning our catch we got back on the "taxi" to Homer and the Motor home and then made our way to Soldotna.
Day Six: 5:30 am we got on the boat with Jon Sheffrey and went after the mighty Keni River Kings. What a great guide he was and we can’t thank him enough for the time he showed us. We caught 7 kings that day including a monster of 48 lbs, 50" long and 27" around (what do we need to do to get a glass mount of this fish?) It was the big fish of the trip and we were all very excited to say the least. This was a morning none of us will ever forget. We drove from there to the Russian River campground and spent the evening fishing for Red salmon. Hooked a few but kind of slow.
Day Seven: Slept in today as I think we are all a little beat but then fished for Reds and a few Rainbows, caught enough to keep it interesting but then we took a hike to the Russian Falls to watch the Salmon leap up the river toward their spawning grounds. What an incredible place Alaska is. We then drove back to Anchorage and met Ed again. I can’t tell you enough how wonderful he was to us the entire trip. This is truly a great man and outdoorsman. We feel we have made a friend for life and would like to send our warmest wishes to him and his wife. Thanks again for all you did for Bridger and our family."
B4K Notes: Bridger's trip was arranged by Ed Schlief of Alaska Bowhunting Supply. Travel expenses for Bridger and his family were paid for in part by Lee Morrow of QuantumAI. All other expenses were covered by Benefit4Kids
Austin Chuhak’s Fishing Wish
One day while sitting at my desk doing some paperwork and some day dreaming the phone suddenly rang bringing me back to reality. When I picked the phone up there was a brief moment of silence and then a voice asked, “Is this the office of Benefit4Kids”? I told them it was and asked how I could help. On the other end of the phone was the father of 8 year-old Austin Chuhak from central Michigan who suffers from Spinal Muscular Atrophy. The type he has is considered terminal although he could well live into his 20's. Right now he has pins in his legs, spine and chest to help him stay upright, yet Austin was determined enough to talk his Dad into signing him up for Cub Scouts. Austin wanted to go fishing but his dad didn’t know where to start. He had found out about Benefit4Kids from a flier he saw and was hoping we may be able to help him take Austin fishing.
When we asked Austin what kind of fish he wanted to fish for he said he didn’t care. He just wanted to go fishing with his dad and roast some marshmallows. It was coming up on October and the weather was turning cooler each day. Austin was no doubt a tough kid but the cold was one thing his body couldn’t tolerate, we had to move fast. As soon as I hung up the phone I knew right where to go to start to make Austin’s fishing trip happen. I put away my paperwork and logged on to Michigan-Sportsman.com I knew if I was going to put together a fishing trip in time for Austin to go this year the guys at Michigan-Sportsman.com could make it happen.
I posted the info about Austin and was hoping to put together a weekend salmon, steelhead or walleye trip for him within two weeks. I didn’t take long before several guys e-mailed me that they could help if Austin wanted to fish Lake Huron or the St. Clair River. One fellow was offering a salmon trip and the other a walleye trip if that’s what Austin wanted. Now I just had to find out which trip Austin wanted and figure out a way for he and his dad to roast marshmallows. That was going to be a tough one, as we would have to put them up in a motel for their trip since the weather was getting colder. Then before I could get a hold of Austin’s dad the phone rang again and my troubles where over.
When I answered the phone it was Paul Baker on the line. He was laughing as he told me what had just happened. He called his best friend Brent Dutcher to tell him he may need help taking a little guy fishing in a few weeks if the boy decided to go Walleye fishing. Brent laughed as he explained to Paul that that same boy might be going fishing for Salmon with him if he chooses to go after Salmon. It turns out these two friends unknown to each other had both offered a fishing trip to Austin and his dad. Paul explained to me that instead of making Austin choose they would take him Salmon fishing on Saturday in Brent’s boat and Walleye fishing Sunday in Paul’s boat. But these two guys weren’t done yet. Paul told me they had contacted a bunch of friends and were putting together a big fish fry in Austin’s honor at a friend’s house complete with a big bonfire for roasting marshmallows. The trip was set.
Two weeks later Austin and his dad arrived in St. Clair and met with Brent and Paul for dinner. As they discussed the next days fishing Paul stated there was nothing you could do to you get the smile off of Austin’s face. They ate like kings that night and after telling a bunch of fish tales they all headed to bed for a good nights sleep. There’s no doubt about what Austin’s dream would be that night.
The next two days they fished hard and in the end they didn't get any Salmon but did great on the Walleyes and Austin had a wonderful time. Once done fishing they headed out for the fish fry and to meet more friends for Austin. At the house where the fish fry was held there happened to be a big pond full for blue gills and bass. I’ll let you guess where you could find Austin until the fish was ready and it was time to roast marshmallows. Austin’s dad said he thought Austin would sleep all the way home but instead he talked non-stop about the great time he had fishing. But even more than that he talked about his new friends and their plans to get together again to wet a line.
Our sincerest thanks to Paul and Brent for taking Austin and his dad out for a GREAT weekend of fishing and fun. We’d also like to thank Dan Zuck from Dan’s Freshwater Fish Taxidermy for mounting a few of Austin’s fish. It’s because of people like these three guys that Benefit4Kids is able to help so many kids like Austin. They are the true heroes of our outdoor world.
The following words are from Diane Larson posted on a care page of which allows family and friends to keep continuous updates on Timmy’s condition. This website is updated as much as Diane can get on and update it while staying at the Ronald McDonald House while Timmy is going through treatments. Timmy is still going through numerous medical battles months after this dream fishing trip with Jimmy Houston. Within the past couple months, Jimmy Houston’s wife, Chris, has traveled to MI to visit Timmy in the hospital and told him when he beats the cancer that battles with him, he and his family are invited back down to Okalahoma to once again go fishing with Jimmy! Timmy is looking forward to this trip to say the least! Please keep Timmy and his family in your prayers as he has a long ways to go…..
"We had a great trip! Thanks to Benefit4Kids (B4K.org) Jimmy Houston and the Bass Pro shop, Timmy was treated like a little king. He had a lot of fun! We spent one night in the Arbuckle Mountains at a cabin, which was a great outdoor experience. There was 77 foot waterfalls that you could swim by, mountains to climb and caves to explore. I had some great pics from there but somehow lost them on my camera. Timmy was happy because he got to go Rocky Mountain climbing like in his Tim McGraw song. The day spent at Jimmy’s Ranch was another wonderful experience. Timmy got to see lots of deer, elk, a snake and most importantly a lot of FISH!! Jimmy fishes barbless at his lake so sad to say Timmy never got one on his pole, but reeled in many BIG BASS!! He was very happy, but without the barb the fish don't get stuck on there very easy you really have to be paying attention and set the hook. Big Tim caught quite a few Bass the average size was about 5 pounds. I fished all day and only caught one crappie and a lot of snags. That day was definitely a day we will all remember forever! Mrs. Houston told Timmy to fight his cancer and win and he can come back and fish some more so he has another reason to in his words "beat up this cancer." The Houston’s called the Bass Pro shop in Okalahoma City and they gave Timmy the VIP treatment. He got a whole new wardrobe, a luggage case for his pole so he could take it on the plane, and some other goodies he wanted. They fed the fish for him and he got to play all of the shooting games for free and just do and get what he wanted. It was pretty cool! He also did some swimming, putt putting, and go cart riding. It was an all about Timmy week and it was fun for all!!
Lots of Love to all of you,
The Timmy Larson Family