WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Another sad casualty of the pandemic

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Another sad casualty of the pandemic

Damn you coronavirus and the hell that spawned you! So many charitable events have been lost or put on hold because of COIVD-19, I don’t think I could count them all.

For me and my fellow outdoor members at the Meriden Rod & Gun Club, it was our Annual St. Jude Day at the Meriden Rod & Gun Club that became one of the earlier victims of the epidemic.

It was scheduled for the last Saturday in March. It was rescheduled for this October, but it has been cancelled again because of COVID-19.

This prestigious event started off in a small way on the club grounds in South Meriden. It began because of a small boy by the name of Jordan Davila who was suffering from leukemia. He was a courageous lad and his courage in battling childhood cancer made us all strong. He lost his battle against this insidious disease at the tender age of 9.

The Meriden Rod & Gun Club membership decided it would begin holding a fundraising day for kids battling childhood cancer and it would be known as St. Jude Day in honor of Jordan Davila.

If you should go into the clubhouse at the Meriden Rod & Gun Club you will see a wall covered with plaques from the kids at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital thanking them for their efforts in raising money on their behalf. There is also a photo of Jordan Davila shooting a bow while trying to knock out childhood cancer.

Credit should also go to Country 92.5 FM for supporting the club’s St. Jude Day. The station also has a St. Jude Radiothon, usually in December, and the Meriden Rod & Gun Club along with the New Haven Raccoon Club would make their donations through Connecticut Shooting Sportsmen to show that there are some good guys ‘n’ gals out there that can do some really good things with the legal use of firearms as well as bows and arrows.

And, by the way, have any of those politicians who want to downsize and take away money from our police noticed that they have forced the citizenry to purchase more and more firearms? What in the heck are they thinking? Or could it be they are not?

But back to St. Jude Day. The Meriden Rod & Gun Club started off in a small way, with members doing the fundraising by getting sponsorship for their shooting skills with both bow and arrow and firearms.

The first events went over pretty well and the gang at the Meriden Rod & Gun Club raised over $4,000 in the first event and even more money each year.

But that insidious disease, childhood cancer, had stolen Jordan Davila from the arms of those who loved him so. This inspired the members at the Meriden Rod and Gun Club to go to even greater lengths to raise money for the kids stricken with childhood cancer.

They began to allow the public access to the club grounds and, for the price of a $10 ticket, promised them all the food, both wild and domestic, they could eat, plus use of their shooting, trap and archery ranges, and a chance to win some phenomenal prizes in the St. Jude raffle.

Each year the event seemed to get larger and the cars would line up on Raven’s Lane as people came to enjoy the camaraderie of such an event. Country 92.5 FM broadcast the coming event weeks before it started and folks marked their calendar to be sure not to miss it. It was that great a time.

And not everyone that came was there to use the shooting ranges. Many came to enjoy each other’s company and many who might have had some anti-gun feelings came away with a different point of view when they saw how well behaved and trained those who used the ranges were.

The volunteers in the kitchen turned out a bevy of foods for those in attendance that would have made any caterer proud. As the years progressed, the menu varied but nobody, and I mean NOBODY, went away hungry!

It has now become a passion with those involved with the event. Chaired by John Waitkus and club president Stan Drauss, plus a host of Meriden Rod & Gun Club volunteers, it has become an “All In” event. Its popularity has exceeded even my wildest expectations.

Last year, the numbers of those in attendance was phenomenal. Thanks to Cassertano’s Greenhouses, we were able to park all of the vehicles that the folks came in.

When all was said and done last year, the Meriden Rod & Gun Club was able to donate $30,000 to St, Jude Children’s Research Hospital through the Country 92.5 FM Radiothon.

I should also mention that every cent made at this event goes to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The club fervently hopes it will hold its St. Jude Day next year. Only time will tell.

I know that other organizations like the Meriden Lions Club that are big supporters of the event have also been hit hard with the loss of fundraisers like the Palm Sunday Brunch and the Annual Duck Race on the Meriden Green.

Let’s all pray for an end to this COVID-19 madness.

Bear sighting

Seen any wild critters lately? Do you know that there is a HUGE black bear wandering around the Meriden Avenue-Savage Street area in Southington? It is a big brute of a black bear and he visited the residence of Kyle and Joy Cooney on Meriden Avenue recently.

The bear knocked over a bird feeder and Kyle was able to get some photos of the beast. From the looks of the photos, I would say it weighed over 300 pounds. It was also devoid of any ear tags that the DEEP puts on bears they have come across. From what I could see of the bear from Cooney’s photos, I would rather see it from a distance.

I spotted a small flock of wild turkeys on my way to the Meriden Dog Park on Hicks Avenue and the following day there were two nice looking whitetailed deer in the same yard. They were both does.

Seeing any wildlife lately, especially in our suburban areas, let me know. All black bear sightings should be reported to the DEEP Wildlife Division.

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be.

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