JERSEY — It was a long way to travel, but for Logan DeAngelis, the trip was full of nothing short of memories.
Logan, 16, made the trek from New Jersey to Jersey through the group Hunting For The Cure, a faith-based nonprofit that shares the great outdoors with children fighting cancer. The White Plains-based group focuses on not only the child fighting cancer but organizes events for the family, as Logan was joined by his father and sister on the trip.
Logan has proven he is a fighter, diagnosed last year with a type of tumors called glioblastomas on his brain and spinal cord. The life expectancy for someone diagnosed with this is 18 months if nothing works, as it is an aggressive form of cancer.
“He has outlived the expectations of his treatment,” Vince DeAngelis said about his son. “The doctor said this was his first patient to do this, so it is kind of new territory. Maybe the Lord has something to do with that. I believe that. That is why it was a must for us to do this.”
The stop in Jersey was not the first excursion for the family on their maiden journey to Georgia. After arriving Monday, they went striper fishing Tuesday on Lake Thurmond and at 6 a.m. Wednesday, Logan and his family met at Buckeye’s restaurant and headed out to Buckeye’s Plantation to go duck hunting.
“It’s awesome to see a kid have that much will to keep on rolling,” said Tom Bruce, who helps manage the hunting part of the plantation. “This is the first time we have been involved with Hunting For The Cure but this is something we definitely want to do some more of.”
Two years ago, Logan expressed an interest in wanting to go duck hunting. This was before the diagnosis, which delayed any realistic opportunities until the treatment could be completed. But as he started feeling better, he wanted to get a gun. While his father was willing to buy it for him, Logan was insistent on buying it himself and over the summer he had enough money for the purchase, which accompanied him for his trip to Georgia.
It was through Facebook the family learned about Hunting For The Cure. Keith Stille organized the nonprofit three years ago to get children fighting cancer outside, trading hospital gowns for camouflage. Thus far more than 20 families have been shown the great outdoors through Hunting For The Cure.
“We are a family-based program because when a child is diagnosed, sometimes other children are pushed to the side. Understandably so. So we try to also recognize the siblings and the family unit as a whole because the stress is on the entire family,” Stille said. “These families become part of our family. And you won’t find more courageous warriors than these kids.”
Despite being sick Tuesday, nothing was going to keep Logan from getting into a hunting blind and getting a few ducks in his sights. It was a slow start for the young hunter, and it took his father picking off a few for the competitive nature to kick in for Logan and he shot his share of the 18 ducks claimed in the two hours they were out on the plantation.
“I will never forget this experience,” Logan said as a big smile came to his face thinking about the sheer number of ducks he saw. “It was a great experience.”
Back at Buckeye’s after the hunt, about a dozen or so who were on the hunt shared stories and laughs over breakfast. With a full stomach, Logan slowly started to grow more and more tired, eventually falling asleep on his father’s lap, surely dreaming about the ducks he got and the wild hogs he would be going after the next day.