As I walked off a Franklin County dove field late on opening-day afternoon, I had a passage from 2 Corinthians on my mind. When I heard a father holler in the distance, “What a day! What a day!” my thoughts had come full circle.
What a privilege it was for me to receive an invitation from Steven Terrell to attend an opening-day dove shoot that he and his wife Mori were hosting. Steven and Mori are the founders of the newly formed Grant William Terrell (GWT) Foundation, a non-profit organization out of Franklin Springs dedicated to helping kids fighting cancer, illness and other challenging life situations, while making outdoor dreams become a reality.
The Sept. 5 dove shoot for 11 kids and their parents was the kick-off event for the GWT Foundation. The afternoon included a safety lesson from DNR Law Enforcement officers, a delicious lunch, skeet shooting and some fantastic wing-shooting for doves on a well-prepared dove field of cut and burned millet.
Steven and Mori went through a horrific battle for more than a year before losing their 3 1/2-year-old son Grant to a rare form of cancer on Dec. 25, 2014. Their journey is documented on the GON Forum with more than 830 posts of updates as the Terrell family posted regularly from Aug. 2013 until Christmas Day 2014.
“I’m thankful for the GON forum, as it gave me a place to share my thoughts, fears and son’s journey with like-minded individuals so that it didn’t stay bottled up inside,” said Steven. “It was also a place where we received encouragement, prayers and financial support. This online community is truly a brother/sisterhood of outdoorsmen.”
After Grant’s passing, Steven and Mori knew they wanted to do something to help fight childhood cancer. Mori shared with me that she got final confirmation for beginning the GWT Foundation during a sermon at their home church, Liberty Baptist Church in Carnesville. Part of the message was from 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, which says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
Like a light switch going on, Mori knew she was called to serve Jesus and others through the GWT Foundation.
With the GWT Foundation in its infancy, kids for the 2015 opening day dove shoot were rounded up through a similar organization, the Outdoor Dream Foundation in Anderson, S.C. Brad Jones is the president of that organization and was able to come and bring most of the kids for the hunt. A few of the kids were locals.
By 3:30, shots started and never let up. As I sat and watched between rounds of running drinks, snacks and more shells out to the kids on a 4-wheeler, I was able to spend some time with Steven and Mori and hear about their plans for the GWT Foundation.
“We have three areas of focus, our highest priority is for pediatric cancer research,” said Steven. “Childhood cancer is allotted less than 4 percent of funds for cancer research; however, cancer is the No. 1 killer of disease for children in the U.S. We hope to one day soon be a national player in the funding of cancer research, so that we can keep other families from going through what our family has gone through.”
Their second area of focus will be on family outreach and support.
“We raise funds to support families financially, we support families emotionally and spiritually, and we support families in any other areas they may need help—provide meals at the hospital, comfort bags, gifts to inpatient families on holidays,” said Steven.
“Our third area of focus is getting kids and families in the outdoors by teaming with local farmers/landowners and other like-minded children based organizations.”
Steven is excited about using hunting and fishing as a way to cater to these families.
“In some cases it may be getting a family out in the fields or on the water to make memories while there is time, and in some cases it may be getting a child with disabilities out who might otherwise not have an opportunity,” said Steven. “In some cases, it may be that a child has lost a brother or sister, and they need an opportunity to escape harsh reality and take in God’s creation to help cope with their loss.”
When starting a new organization, there’s always a list of what they need. I asked Steven how GON and its readers could help.
“We are looking for families fighting all aspects of childhood cancer from in-treatment, post-treatment and bereaved families,” said Steven.
“We are also in need of donations, both financial, property and products to support our outdoor mission.
“We are also in need of volunteers to help during outings, be it a guide on the water or in the woods, an experienced shooter helping with instruction and safety, someone to help with keeping hydration and nutrition levels met, or someone to just be there and share stories and just ensure families are enjoying themselves.
“We are always looking for landowners to partner with for all types of hunting.”
Ken Madren, of Sandy Springs, and his 18-year-old son Chip were participants at the inaugural GWT Foundation Dove Shoot. Chip is a survivor of meduloblastoma, a cancerous brain tumor. Thankfully, Chip is cancer free, but he sits in a wheelchair and works daily to recover capabilities to walk and live on.
“The GWT foundation did a great job of building awareness of the battles of pediatric cancer victims and their families in a fun and family oriented setting,” said Ken.
Ken was the father I heard holler, “What a day! What a day!” as I was leaving the dove field.
“Many of these children once enjoyed the outdoors without handicap, and some thought they may never return to the field. To see them participate once again in the things they love made it a day that will be remembered,” said Ken.
Chip ended his afternoon with seven birds that he shot on his own.
Steven and Mori’s entire journey can be read on the GON forum at http://forum.gon.com/showthread.php?t=767418.
To contact the GWT Foundation, e-mail info@gwtfoundation or mail to PO Box 336, Franklin Springs, GA 30639. Their phone number is (706) 340-8773 and website is www.gwtfoundation.org.
Finding Peace In The Storm
By Brad Gill
Part of what Steven and Mori Terrell will do through the Grant William Terrell Foundation is use it as a ministry platform. They openly share how their relationships with Jesus Christ guided them through the very difficult journey.
Several hours before Grant’s passing and about 45 minutes before Christmas morning would officially start, Stephen posted the following on the GON Forum:
“As you sit here tonight excited about the big day ahead tomorrow and the gifts you are about to receive and give, please stop and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. It is a day to celebrate our Father sending our Savior to this world to save us from our sins.
“Because of His sacrifice, we are worthy to call His Kingdom home. It does not matter your past. If you accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, His Kingdom is yours to call home. The good Lord knows my past, and He knows it’s not one to brag about. The Lord also knows my heart today, and it belongs to Him. We don’t have to be perfect to enter His Kingdom, however, because of our love for Him, we should try. We will fall short every day, but through His grace we are forgiven.
“Those who know my past, including myself, would have expected me to hit the bottle hard during this journey I’ve faced holding my son’s hand. I stand here today in awe that I haven’t taken one drop through this journey. The only explanation for this is because of the unwavering love, faith and trust I have put in my Lord. He has been true to His words, and He has granted me with a peace that surpasses our understanding. I don’t stand tall here today because I am a great man or better or stronger than any other, but because my Lord stands beside me and lifts me as I fall with weakness.
“If you don’t know the Lord as your Savior, today is a great day to confide in someone you trust to lead you to the Lord. Don’t wait until tomorrow to ‘get right’ with the Lord because you are not promised tomorrow. Grant is a great example of this. Just two short months ago he was finishing up treatment and kicking cancers, but in a blink of an eye, we are sitting here waiting for him to enter the Lord’s Kingdom.
Please share with your kids the true meaning of Christmas this and every holiday season. Merry Christmas, may it mean that we will share His Kingdom together for all of eternity.”