Ohio volunteer receives prestigious national NWTF award
Photos and interviews for media available upon request through Josh Fleming.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. —Brad Christensen was “hooked” on NWTF Wheelin’ Sportsmen outings during his initial event.
For his outstanding efforts in providing opportunities for disabled people to enjoy hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities, the Swanton, Ohio, native was recognized with the 2011 Wheelin’ Sportsmen Volunteer of the Year Award Feb. 10 during the NWTF Convention and Sport Show in Nashville, Tenn.
Christensen, chairman of the Maumee Valley Chapter’s Wheelin’ Sportsmen program, oversaw three wildly successful events, including an annual hunting event at Toledo Express Airport, a summer gun blast and a bratwurst fund raiser. The three events raised more than $18,000.
Christensen’s passion for Wheelin’ Sportsmen events was sparked six years ago at the Maumee Valley Chapter’s first hunt at the Toledo airport. Serving as a guide for a young woman hunter paralyzed in a car accident, Christensen accidentally created a disturbance while chasing down a jake shot by his hunter.
Christensen said he’ll never forget the smile on the young woman’s face when he surveyed the aftermath of the chase, which caused their blind to flip over.
“To see her smile was pretty neat,” said Christensen, who has served as chairman of the outing the past five years. “Once you’re involved in Wheelin’ Sportsmen events, you’re hooked.”
Thanks to an agreement with the airport, the Maumee Valley Chapter holds a two-day hunt with 15 disabled hunters on a 2,500-acre property filled with wild turkey. The 2011 weekend began with 235 people attending a banquet with free admission. A professional video company provided a video for each participant to keep as a memento.
“He’s done a tremendous job,” said Skip Markland, an NWTF regional director in Ohio. “He is devoted to involving as many people as possible in preserving our hunting heritage.”
“We’re proud and grateful to have outstanding volunteers such as Brad, who donate their time to providing outdoor opportunities to people with disabilities,” said Tom Hughes, NWTF vice president of education and outreach programs. “Brad’s efforts have helped put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces.”
The airport hunt has attracted hunters from throughout Ohio. Different hunters take part each year with priority going to hunters who have not yet harvested a turkey.
At least 50 volunteers work each day during the hunt.
“We’ve got a great group helping us all the way,” said Christensen. “We have 20 different guys that could have won this award. But they could only give it to one, so they gave it to me.”
In 2011, volunteers with the NWTF Wheelin’ Sportsmen program held more than 300 annual events across North America with volunteers helping more than 8,000 people with disabilities enjoy outdoor activities.
Through local chapter events across North America, the Wheelin’ Sportsmen program offers nearly limitless opportunities to people with disabilities eager to be outdoors and engage in an active lifestyle.
Founded in 1973, the NWTF is dedicated to the conservation of the wild turkey and the preservation of our hunting heritage.
The NWTF works to increase interest in the outdoors by attracting new hunters and conservationists through educational events and outreach programs such as the JAKES and Xtreme JAKES youth programs, Women in the Outdoors and Wheelin’ Sportsmen.
Through dynamic partnerships with state, federal and provincial wildlife agencies, the NWTF and its members have helped restore wild turkey populations across the country, spending more than $372 million to conserve 17 million acres of habitat for all types of wildlife.
2012 Convention Sponsors
MidwayUSA — Official Sponsor
Academy Sports + Outdoors, Barronett Blinds, Bass Pro Shops, Benelli, Big Tex Trailers, Bird Dog and Whitetail Whiskey, Browning, Cabela’s, Chevrolet, Federal Premium Ammunition, Marlin Firearms, Mossy Oak, Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau, Nationwide, O.F. Mossberg, Remington Arms Company, Inc., Titan UTV, Winchester/Olin Corporation, U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance, Weatherby, Wild Turkey Bourbon