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On May 26th, 2007, I met Jonathan and Bruce Kerr for the first time. These two "Georgia Boys" were to be the guests of the NW Chapter of SCI for the next ten days. Ten year old Jonathan, a liver cancer patient, was headed to central BC for his SafariWish hunt of a life time.These two intrepid travelers spent a day and a half at the home of Bob and Debby Stallman (SCI NW members), fishing for rainbow trout (up to 18 lbs.) and a little time on the rifle range. Jonathan "Kerrocket" proved to be a marksman. Those bruins in BC where in trouble!
Two days later we arrived at the Bowron River Guiding, Willow River BC, and did we see bears! 44, to be exact! Big ones, HUGE ones, browns and blacks, cubs.... They were everywhere! And in just 6 days!
But the hunt proved to be a tough one.
Initially, Jonathan told everyone in Georgia that he was going on this hunt and was full of enthusiasm. He was still active, taking life in stride. But his health was deteriorating, rapidly. As the hunt date arrived the cancer was exacting a terrible toll. Our hunter lacked the strength to even pull the trigger and was able to stand or hunt for only a few hours at a time. J. Kerr wanted a rug for his souvenir and it didn't look as though this was going to happen. It was decided, collectively, to buy Jonathan's dad a tag and license and give him the opportunity to harvest the trophy. It was going to be "tough" duty for our guide with just 27 hours remaining. Later that day, our quest was completed: we had a bear in the barn! We owe guide Scott Pichette a lot!
These two travelers needed to return home and quickly. We left the hunting camp and drove all night, returning to Bob's. Bruce was able to change reservation dates and on the morning of June 7th, we said goodbye and, with the bear in the belly of the plane, they left for home. Jonathan Kerr and his dad had a great hunt together and memories were made.
Story by James Lakeman
Bruce and Jonathan Kerr came to the 2007 Southeastern Sportsmanís Convention sponsored by GASCI in Feb. Rex Jr. met them at the chapter booth, he steered father and son toward me on the hall floor. Where Bruce Kerr and I had the opportunity to discuss Safari Wish. Bruce told me how much his son enjoyed the outdoors. He also explained that his son had been through chemotherapy twice and that his liver cancer had returned. By the age of 10 he had been through more medical procedures than most adults experience in a lifetime
By coincidence Doug Cory was at the show the sometime. Dougís son Eric had been on a Safari Wish adventure the year earlier. Doug explained how much it meant to his son. Eric had been on several wish adventures with other organizations, his most enjoyable had been the trip sponsored by SCI. He explained how the trip was much more than just a bear hunt.
Bruce and Jonathan were excited and looking forward to a Safari Wish Adventure. Bruce pulled me off to the side and explained his son did not have much time. At the time the concern was Jonathan being able to make the trip. It was highly unlikely he would make a June trip.
Tuesday of the next week Eva called me to let me know that Thom Halligan of the NW Chapter was looking to sponsor a Safari Wish event. I called Thom, he and I began a dialogue. He contacted the Kerr family and organized the event from start to finish. The Northwest Chapter deserves the credit for all the hard work involved in making the event come to pass.
Thom emailed me the day Jonathan and Bruce were to land in Atlanta. He informed me that Jonathan had died on the plane 40 minutes before landing. Saturday Thom and I discussed doing something special for the family. He emailed me many pictures of the hunt. My wife, Allyson, went to Athens to find a Teddy Bear, per Thomís request. Of all the pictures we picked 2. One was printed as a 4X6 of Jonathon with an 18lb trout caught on his first cast, the second was an 8X10 of Jonathan shooting the rifle at the practice range. An SCI pin was placed in the ear of the bear.
Bruce told me how grateful he was to have met SCI that day. He intends to become a member. His intent is to help others by becoming involved in the Safari Wish program. His family realized Jonathan had held onto life just to make his trip to BC with Thom Halligan and the Northwest Chapter.
The Northwest Chapter did all the hard work from arranging transportation, organizing the fishing and hunting. This was by far the biggest adventure Jonathan and his Dad had ever done together. I am glad we were able to close the loop for the family by introducing Bruce to Thom, then finally being there for the family at the service.