Trip of a Lifetime

Sometimes a story can truly inspire us to do great things.

Tim Smith, an attorney with Smith & Johnson in Traverse City, Michigan, was flipping through a hunting magazine when he came upon an article about Tina Pattison and her son, Matthew, who was dying of cancer. The article chronicled Pattison’s efforts to have her son’s dying wish—to go on a moose-hunting adventure—granted.

After being told by the Make-A-Wish organization that it no longer took part in hunts, Pattison made it her mission to tell Matthew’s story and make his wish come true. And she did.

Also borne from this was Pattison’s Hunt of a Lifetime, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to grant hunting and fishing dreams for children age 21 and under, who have been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses.

“I was really moved by the efforts Tina made to fulfill her son’s dying wish,” Smith explains. Smith, an avid hunter and licensed fly fisherman in his own right, immediately wanted to help.

“I wrote a letter of support to Tina,” says Smith. “I told her that if they ever had a child in Michigan who wanted to go fly or trout fishing, I’d be more than happy to float them down the river.”

About four months later, Smith got a call from Tina. She explained that she had a 16-year-old bone cancer patient—Zachary Martin—who would be coming to Michigan with his mother to go bow hunting with Ted Nugent on his ranch in Jackson. However, he wanted to do some fishing as well.

So, Smith contacted some people he knew at Big Jon Downriggers and asked if they’d be willing to take Martin and the group on their corporate boat. “They, of course, were more than willing to help,” he says.

After two days bow hunting with Nugent, Martin arrived for their fishing expedition. Nugent even arranged for Mike Skupin of “Survivor” fame to attend the trip as well.

“I think he had a great time,” Smith says. “Zac was truly a wonderful kid. He was so happy and did a great job fishing.”

While in Michigan, Martin also got to attend one of Nugent’s shows at Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mount Pleasant, according to Smith. Nugent even had Martin work as his guitar tech for the show.

Sadly, less than a year later, Smith received word that Martin had died.

“It was an incredible high and an incredible low,” explains Smith. “Having the opportunity to spend two days with Zac—taking part in something that took his mind off the things that regularly consume him—was special. I think it was also special for his mother because she got to see Zac truly enjoy life.”

These days, Smith remains active in a number of charities with which he regularly works and occasionally touches base with Pattison. “We haven’t had another child in our area yet, but Tina knows that I’m always available for these kids,” he says.

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