Shelby grew up in a family that genuinely enjoys the outdoors. Running and hiking were two of her favorite things from the time she could walk. Spending time outside with her mom and dad was a way of life. Then, at age nine, that way of life changed.
In February of 2012, Shelby was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that affects the white blood cells. These cells fight infection and help protect the body against disease. Following three years of chemotherapy, things have been going fairly well however there is still the constant worry and stress on the entire family. Shelby’s illness with leukemia, as well as often being ill from the side effects of the treatment, is stressful and uncomfortable; her parents are constantly concerned 24 hours a day about the well-being of their young child; and younger sister Jordan is concerned but may not always understand the complexity of what is happening.
Despite the many difficulties associated with her illness and the treatment, Shelby works very hard and continues to get good grades at school. She wants to have as normal of a life as possible. The entire family enjoys hunting and fishing but with her recent health problems these activities have been fairly limited for Shelby as well as the rest of the family. However activities are beginning to enter back into this outdoorsy family’s life. This past spring Shelby passed her hunter safety class and was very excited to go hunting.
In October 2015, Big Hearts was honored to serve Shelby and her family. As with all Big Hearts trips, the community rallied around to create a memory for this family. Coordinated out of the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association office, a great experience came alive. Among the many details: hunting was arranged on private and public lands near the community of Alder Montana, hunting attire was gathered and a hand sewn quilt was later presented to Shelby.
Upper Canyon Outfitters hosted this Big Hearts Trip. Donna and “Mr. Jake” McDonald opened their ranch and their hearts creating a truly unforgettable Montana experience for the family.
Shelby’s one-on-one guided hunt for white-tailed deer proved victorious. “I am putting it [the mount] in my room” she exclaimed.
In addition to hunting, the family enjoyed other aspects of the ranch. Shelby and Jordan both enjoyed riding the horses and there was fishing and wildlife spotting hikes. “This is just like going to the zoo,” said the girls.
Many thanks to the Gottwald Family, Reed and Lynn Rowberry, Sitka, our quilters, and Upper Canyon Outfitters on an a trip that will be fondly remembered forever!