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franklin county times

Wheelin' Sportsmen joins forces with Wild Turkey Federation

By Staff
Jan. 26, 2001
Former Meridianite Kirk Thomas, founder of Wheelin' Sportsmen of America (WSA), announced through a joint press release with the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) that the two organizations have agreed to merge efforts in bringing more disabled sportsmen and women afield.
Congratulations and a renewed pledge of support from here. It would be difficult to find two more
progressive benevolent groups WSA helping disabled persons and the NWTF benefiting wild turkeys.
I spoke briefly with Thomas at last week's Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade show in New Orleans. The wheelchair bound man was busy doing the work of WSA.
The NWTF is already known for its education efforts and this expansion gives the organization the most comprehensive outreach program of any
conservation organization. With more than 50 million disabled people in the United States, the program will fill a much needed void.
Wheelin' Sportsmen has heretofore been primarily a Southeastern U.S. organization. By joining with the NWTF, they become international in scope and the outreach potential is unlimited.
Rob Keck, CEO of the NWTF noted, "Through its JAKES program, the NWTF teaches youth 17 and under the importance and fun involved in conservation.
Women are already encouraged to experience the excitement of the outdoors in the NWTF's Women in the Outdoors program, and now we've filled in another gap by reaching out to disabled individuals. For several years, the NWTF chapters have participated in special hunts for the disabled, and through the vision of local chapter leaders, the NWTF realized a huge opportunity to fill this need," Keck said.
One of the NWTF leaders responsible for the workings of this merger is Kirk Thomas' brother, Steve Thomas, of Collinsville. Steve is Regional Coordinator for the NWTF in addition to his work with Wheelin' Sportsmen.
When I attended the organizational meeting of Wheelin' Sportsmen here in Meridian, I was astonished and heartened by two striking revelations. One, at how many disabled persons were genuinely interested in outdoor activities. And, two, how many able-bodied outdoor enthusiasts were anxious to see that the disabled had the opportunities they desire.
If the reader wants to feel good about human relationships, I recommend attending a Wheelin' Sportsmen meeting or one of their many outdoor events.
Learn more about participating in Wheelin' Sportsmen by attending the February 9 NWTF banquet at MSU Meridian Auditorium. Activities begin at 6 p.m. For details, call (601) 626-0034.
Otha Barham is Outdoors Editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at olbarham1@aol.com.

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