“Our goal is to give the kids a chance to do things they may not have been able to do before. We cater the activity to the child’s level of ability. One example is during hunting season, we do a lot of hunting from blinds with our kids who are in wheelchairs.
“Right now fishing is really the only thing we can do, so we take them out and teach them. We don’t just catch fish; we teach them, which lures we use and why. We teach them the best conditions. The big moment of catching the fish or harvesting a deer are fun but even more important is the teaching aspect.”
Currently, 25 children are signed up with C. Mo’s local chapter and the organization has nearly the same number of volunteers.
“We have some of the most amazing volunteers who go over and above to help the kids have the same great experiences. I am a firefighter and a lot of the volunteers are either police officers, EMS or firefighters,” Wood said.
When the group takes a child hunting for the first time, the first priority is teaching gun safety.
“We teach them the 10 commandments of gun safety and we make sure they do not handle the weapon until it is time to harvest the animal. It is also important to us to show them the skills of hunting.
Joy Pence, mother of three and a C. Mo’s Kids’ volunteer, joined the organization in February.
“All of my children participate in C. Mo’s Kids and they love it. I can see a big difference in them; they are getting opportunities they normally wouldn’t get. My 8-year-old, Christian, is usually very withdrawn. It takes a special personality to help kids with autism and my son is doing great with Aaron and the other guys.
“For my oldest son, Andrew [Clark], who has cerebral palsy, on his 16th birthday they took him fishing. My husband is also a volunteer, so he and two other men took Andrew to the Coosa River in Rome where he caught a striped bass as long as his arm. It was amazing for him. He got so many congratulations and Aaron posted it on the Facebook page. He got so much feedback and encouragement. It was really great for him.”
Wood, who spent much time as a child participating in outdoor activities, attributes hunting and fishing to helping him “stay out of trouble” during adolescence.
“Nothing in me can express how I feel about the outdoors. It is such an important part our family’s life. It is so important to for us to let kids know just because they have a disability doesn’t mean they won’t do anything with their lives,” he said.
The group plans camping trips throughout the summer at various locations and is planning a Back to School Bash camp-out in August.
C. Mo’s Kids accepts children with all levels of physical and mental disability or children with less fortunate circumstances. Parents or guardians can sign up on the organization’s website and fill out a short questionnaire detailing the child’s health status.
For more information, visit www.cmoskids.org.