WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Once more, and forever, for Jordan

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Once more, and forever, for Jordan


“Why me, Mike?”

Those three words are burned into my very soul.

They were asked of me by a young child stricken with leukemia.

I turned my head so he would not see the tears running down this craggy old face and could give him no answer.

The child was Jordan Davila and he was using all of his childhood strength to fight the insidious disease.

I had first met Jordan through an article in the Meriden Record-Journal that told of his fight with leukemia and how he had a tent to which he would retreat after a chemo session. It seemed that some vile person had stolen his tent.

When I told Edna about it she said, “You have one in your pickup truck. Why not bring it over to him?”

I did, and I was taken in by the charm of this brave little kid when we first met. I found out that he liked fishing and promised him that when he went into remission from the disease I would take him fishing.

Little did I know the effect he would have on me and my fellow sportsmen at the Meriden Rod & Gun Club.

He charmed just about everyone he met, including the Venuti family, who at that time ran a trout fishing pond in Killingworth.

I would take Jordan for rides through the countryside and watch him glow at all of the wonderful sights that nature had to offer. But it was the fishing trips that really made him happy. The Venuti family put a special boat into their trout pond just for Jordan, and he and I would fish from it.

One day after landing a huge trout from the pond, Jordan beamed and said, “I’m the luckiest kid in the world.”

Just imagine these words coming from a child fighting cancer.

Jordan became good friends with some of the Venuti children and he even developed a crush on one of the mothers. We made many trips to Venwood Lake during his time on this earth.

Then, one rainy day, he sort of lost interest in the fishing. Instead, he stayed inside the lodge on the lake and slept as Linda Venuti covered him with a blanket. It would be is last trip to Venwood Lake.

During the time of his remission, I also introduced Jordan to my fellow members of the Meriden Rod & Gun Club at a kid’s fishing derby hosted by the club. He had no problem in charming them and, the next thing we knew, they began fundraising for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

I often wonder why various news media in our state are always on the scene to report the use of illegal firearms used to kill innocent humans, yet when honest sportsmen and firearm owners use their legal firearms to help make money to save the lives of children stricken with cancer and other childhood diseases, such as the Meriden Rod & Gun Club does with its St. Jude Day, the news media is NEVER around to tell about the good deed.

I guess that folks doing something good using firearms is not worthy of their attention.

The proceeds from their fundraisers were always donated to my favorite radio station, Country 92.5 FM, when they hold their annual St. Jude Radiothon to help put an end to childhood cancer.

It was known as St. Jude Day. In the beginning, they started out small, but the event kept getting bigger every year thanks to the Country 92.5 FM’s promotion of the event via their DJs.

Originally, supporters raised money using their bows and arrows on shoots sponsored by other supporters for a certain amount of money per point on the targets.

But the gang at the Meriden Rod & Gun Club had promised Jordan that they would never forget him, and the event became larger every year. They have even opened up their firing range and trap range on St. Jude Day so that honest firearms owners with the proper firearms permits could use their range that one special day.

And then more food than you can ever believe was added to the event as the popularity of this righteous undertaking grew by word of mouth and Country 92.5 FM.

And you have to be there to see the HUGE raffle that is a major part of their fundraising efforts!

The Meriden Rod & Gun Club now even has a “Wall of Hope” in the clubhouse that sports the many plaques awarded to the club over the years. Right on the top of the wall is a photo of my grandson, Jordan Davila.

I forgot to tell you: On one of our fishing trips Jordan asked me if I would be his “LLG?” Puzzled, I asked him what that was and he said he wanted me to be his “Long Lost Grandpa.”

I told him I would be honored to be his adopted grandfather.

We had many good times together, some better than others because of what he was going through. Yet I am still haunted by those three words, “Why me, Mike?”

But I do have to tell you that my heart sings when I witness the efforts of the Meriden Rod & Gun Club and the New Haven Raccoon Club in raising funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and I like to think that Jordan Davila had a lot to do with it.

(I would like to offer my apologies to the New Haven Raccoon Club for not being able to put their St. Jude shoots in my column because of some medical issues at the time of their shoots.)

Those three words uttered by Jordan came on a day when he met rock star Ted Nugent and then-Gov. John Rowland at the State Capitol for a signing of a bill allowing sportsmen to share their wild bounty with those less fortunate.

Ted Nugent autographed a hat for Jordan and wrote, “To Jordan, the kid with the heart of a lion”

Gov. Rowland even made special time to speak to Jordan and pose for a photo with Jordan, Nugent and this old outdoor writer.

So, please join my fellow members of the Meriden Rod & Gun Club as they go ALL IN next Saturday, Oct. 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the club grounds on Raven’s Lane in South Meriden in their efforts to help find a cure for the kids at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and all kids stricken by these insidious diseases.

The event will take place rain or shine because childhood cancer happens in all kinds of weather.

I have a plaque presented to me that reads, “One hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.”

St. Jude founder Danny Thomas said, “No child should die in the dawn of life.” We at the Meriden Rod & Gun Club and the New Haven Raccoon Club believe that with all our hearts.

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters, first responders and children suffering from childhood diseases.