THE PEOPLE BEHIND THE BARREL
TJ duPerier is a 30-year-old man who was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy when he was 5. Weston and TJ are cousins and grew up hunting, fishing and enjoying the outdoors together.
When he started using a wheelchair full-time at the age of 13, TJ wasn't willing to give up his love for the outdoors and its wildlife. Instead, he found ways to adapt. For hunting, he uses a beach ball put under his arm and a strap around his back that stabilize him. TJ said it has been a method of trial and error throughout the years, but he has found ways to live his life doing what he loves.
"I use the outdoors to get through struggles, but I don't let much bother me. I always find a way to do what I want. I look at this as just another bump in my road, as long as I can do what I love. It took a while for me to accept, but with supportive friends and family like Weston, I'm living my life to the fullest."
Sidney Smith is 35, a dad to four kids, and a double amputee below the knees after losing them to muscular dystrophy when he was 32.
Sidney was contacted by Weston long before the organization was up and running. Weston told Sidney that he had a desire for the outdoors and wanted to bring him to Texas one day to hunt with TJ.
Before Sidney's legs were amputated, he loved to hunt, fish and enjoy the outdoors. After he got his prosthetics, Sidney was able to continue hiking, hunting and enjoying the outdoors however he pleases.
"This trip with Weston, Jeremy, Kevin and TJ was amazing, I just wish I had been able to stay longer. Being able to talk with TJ and getting to know the boys individually was great. Also, this is probably the biggest deer I have ever shot so that was exciting. "
What was thought to be growing pains for 7-year-old Nixon Whatcott turned out to be stage four Osteosarcoma cancer. Nixon has gone through many surgeries, chemotherapy sessions and radiation treatments in the last year.
Nixon's mom Janessa Whatcott said Nixon is so strong through every piece of his treatment, but that it has been no where near easy for their family. While one parent is at the hospital with Nixon, the other parent is running around with the other three children.
Being able to go on a family trip for the Whatcott's is something they cherish, as it gives them time together away from the stress and chaos of their daily lives.
"We were so honored to have this organization, that was just starting up, ask us to come down to Texas. Weston and his buddies are just so genuine, caring and passionate for what they do, it really touched me that these kids are taking time out of their weekend to change strangers lives. It touched my heart and Nixon hasn't stopped talking about Weston since."