By Brandi Makuski
A local couple known for their philanthropy has just donated more than $12,000 to the Guns N’ Hoses fundraiser.
The money was used to purchase a brand new all-terrain electric wheelchair known as a “track-chair” for use by local veterans, according to Sheriff Mike Lukas, a member of the Guns N’ Hoses planning committee.
“This is something we’ve been hoping to get for a while,” Lukas said as he tried the chair out in the lawn of the Stevens Point Fire Station No. 1 on June 30. “There’s a lot of disabled vets who will be able to go hunting now…what a great thing to be able to offer.”
Monday for the chair was donated by Bob and Mary Berard, owner of Paramount Farms in Bancroft. The couple previously donated $1 million to complete the new location of the Boys and Girls Club on Michigan Avenue.
“It was something we’d thought of doing on the national level,” said Bob Berard of donating the chair. “But when we saw this local opportunity in the newspaper, we thought it was great and just had to do it.”
The chair will be stored locally, according to Lukas, and be available for free rental by local veterans who have a tough time getting around local parks and hunting grounds. Lukas himself works with disabled hunters at the Almond Rod and Gun Club.
But veterans don’t need to be disabled to use the chair, according to Portage Co. Veterans Service Officer Mike Clements, who also works on the Guns N’ Hoses committee.
“Some of these [veterans] have had multiple leg surgeries, or knee problems, that kind of thing, and this would be ideal for them, as well,” Clements said.
Kevin Ruder, co-founder of the local Guns N’ Hoses event, said the battery-powered chair would be ideal for traversing the Green Circle Trail as well.
The planning committee — consisting of Ruder, SPFD Chief Bob Finn and Assistant Chief Jeff Davis, Mike Clements, the Portage Co. Veterans Service Officer, Chief Marty Skibba and Ofc. Mike Bink from SPPD, Chief Dan Ault and Ofc. Seth Pionke from Plover PD, Sheriff Mike Lukas and Deputy Florian Chojnacki, along with Traci Tauferner from Ministry St. Michael’s — also recently took receipt of funds for a trailer to haul the track-chair, donated by Ray and Camille Bukowski, of Plover, in honor of their late son.
The third annual Guns N’ Hoses softball game is planned for Aug. 27 at Bukolt Park. The fundraiser will benefit Never Forgotten Honor Flight, funding for local disabled veteran hunts, Ageless Aviation Dreams Fly-In and the Portage Co. Veterans Relief Fund.
Donations to the cause can be made directly at any branch of Simplicity Credit Union (formerly known as Central City Credit Union).
For more information on how to donate, go to the Guns’n Hoses Facebook page.