Operation Hot Wheels: groups build hunting blind for boy


BUCKHANNON — A project that brought together people from two counties and several organizations will allow a local boy to be able to hunt with his dad and family at their farm in Braxton County.

Braden Allen, the son of Ret. U.S. Army Major Rob and Jodi Allen, of Buckhannon, has Duchennes Muscular Dystrophy and uses a wheelchair to get around. Although he is still able to do a lot, hunting at the family farm was going to be a challenge until some people stepped into make that possible.

The family’s former hunting blind at the farm was in need of repairs to make it handicapped accessible and suitable for Braden.

That is when Braden’s uncle Mark talked with Chad See of Mount-n-Critters Taxidermy in Elkins and See contacted Dave Whittaker, founder of Warriors in the Field, Ltd.

Operation Hot Wheels was born.

Whittaker said they give each project a code name and Operation Hot Wheels just seemed to fit for this particular venture.

Warriors in the Field, Ltd. is based in Elkins and helps veterans mainly through providing hunting and fishing outings. It has taken on projects such as wheelchair ramps for veterans as well, but this is the first project to help the son of a veteran.

“This is a little different,” Whittaker said. “Anything we can do to support veterans we are all about, but this is the first thing we have done for the child of a veteran. It was very important to us because there isn’t a better thing than a child being able to go into the outdoors with their father or mother and go hunting. It’s a bonding experience and builds camaraderie.”

Whittaker began making phone calls to solicit donations and one of those calls was to Chad Corley, manager of the Buckhannon Lowe’s location.

“He stepped right up and provided over $800 worth of donations,” Whittaker said.

On Saturday, Nov. 10, Corley and some other store employees were on hand and presented Braden with a heater as well.

Warriors in the Field and their partners surprised Braden with the building of the hunting bind at the unveiling at the Buckhannon Fire Department on Nov. 10.

After the unveiling, Whittaker, members of the Valley Independent Baptist Church and other volunteers headed to Braxton County where they set up the new hunting blind – which is essentially a room to allow Braden to hunt in comfort without being exposed to the elements.

“It’s been complete once,” Whittaker said. “We built it to take it apart so everything is in panels and we just need to set the panels back up.”

Whittaker said this would be the last WITF project for 2018.

“We have some hunting trips scheduled in January and February and a fishing trip scheduled in May,” he said.

Anyone wishing to donate to Warriors in the Field can search for their Facebook page and use the Donate tab, visit www.warriorsinthefield.org or mail donations to P.O. Box 1183 Elkins, WV 26241.

Braden will turn 13 on Nov. 29 making this an early birthday present, too, and he said he was looking forward to going to the farm to be able to hunt. 

Also at the Nov. 10 surprise, Staff Sgt. Scott Dering and Sgt. Kit Cottrill were on hand to present Braden with a Hometown Hero Award and Whittaker with a certificate of appreciation.


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