OWL Awareness Banquet sets attendance records

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Even the greatest of expectations were exceeded Thursday night when the Pike County Chapter of Outdoors Without Limits (OWL) hosted an organizational Awareness Banquet at Cattleman Park.

“We were expecting a big crowd and we were prepared but, really, the crowd exceeded all of our expectations,” said Terry McPherson, chapter president.

Four hundred and 89 people attended the OWL Awareness Banquet, many of them already as dedicated members and others who came wanting to get involved or to learn more about the organization that promotes awareness and teamwork between disabled and non-disabled individuals through education and outdoor recreation opportunities.

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“Before Thursday night, the largest attendance at any OWL Awareness Banquet, nationwide, was 350. Last year, our banquet attracted 125. So, we are very excited to be the host of the largest OWL Awareness Banquet in the country and that people in Pike County and the surrounding areas are getting behind us.

“We had people from Montgomery, Birmingham and Panama City attend. That’s an indication that people are really behind what we do and are willing to step up and do what they can to help.”

“The Cattlemen did a great job and we didn’t hear anything but positive comments about the dinner,” McPherson said. “We really appreciate their support.”

Bidding for the silent and live auctions was lively and quick and raised a good sum of money for the Pike County Chapter’s second annual national Ultimate Adventure Deer Hunt, Jan. 14-17, 2010, at Swindall’s RV Park in Troy.

“The purpose of the banquet was for people to learn more about OWL. We showed a short video that I think made everyone aware of the importance of the organization and the many benefits to everyone involved,” McPherson said. “Those who attended also had an opportunity to learn about the Ultimate Adventure Deer Hunt and a chance to be involved.”

Land owners, who will permit hunting on their land, guides for the 120 hunters and scores of other volunteers to do everything from cooking to bottle washing are needed.

“We have many Ultimate Adventure volunteer opportunities and we believe that people will respond in great numbers,” McPherson said. “I’ve been on the phone all day taking calls from people that want to volunteers. But, we can’t have too many volunteers. The 2010 Ultimate Adventure Deer Hunt should be the largest deer hunt in the country for people with disabilities. We invite everyone to be a part of it.”

McPherson expressed appreciation to all of those who made the OWL Awareness Banquet such a great success and asked for the continued support of the community in the chapter’s efforts to provide “ultimate outdoor” adventures for individuals with disabilities.

For more information or to volunteer, call 566-8353, 372-7334 or 566-5463.