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For the love of the hunt

By By Matthew Nascone
The Matthews family farm has become known as the place to go hunting in the Atmore area, at least to Gene White and his Outdoors Without Limits group.
White and nine other participants took part in the Second Annual Matthews-La Penna Memorial Hunt Jan. 13-14 on the 9,500-acre plot of land owned by Hooper Matthews III and family.
"I think it is so great that the Matthews lend their land for our hunt," White said. "It helps people with disabilities get out there and enjoy the outdoors and have a good hunt."
White is the chairman of the South Alabama chapter of OWL, which is a group dedicated to giving disabled people the same opportunities in the outdoors as people without disabilities.
The group was formed in August of 2007 under the direction of Kirk Thomas. Kirk's brother, Steve Thomas, is the regional vice president for OWL and he was present at the hunt.
"We love to have these community based events," Steve Thomas said. "This hunt has 10 hunters and 46 volunteers. We hope to involve people in the local communities in all of our events. And today's event has been a great success."
Thomas said the support in the Atmore area has been great and he is glad so many people have jumped on board to help others.
"These events are a real good opportunity for us to give back to the community," Thomas said.
The Matthews-La Penna hunt involved people from Atmore, Brewton, Flomaton, Mobile and Milton, Fla. White said he was happy about the turnout.
"We had another good turnout this year," he said. "And there were a lot of businesses who helped us fund the event. And many other businesses donated prizes for our raffle. We are appreciative to all those who supported us and especially to Pepsi-Cola Bottling of Atmore because without them we would not be able to have this event."
Pepsi was the main sponsor and 43 other businesses from the surrounding area helped in some form or fashion, White said.
"We are just glad the word is getting out about this hunt and our other activities during the year," White said. "It allows people to see what we are doing and prepare for next year."
White may be the chairman of the South Alabama chapter, but he had some help getting the chapter running.
"Virgil Armstrong and myself started this South Alabama chapter and I would be nowhere if it was not for him," White said.
Outdoors Without Limits is based out of Grand Rapids, Mich. and the group hosts about 250 events nationwide per year. Thomas said they are attempting to start chapters wherever there is interest.
The events are open to all ages and there are no participation fees for those who are disabled.
For more information about Outdoors Without Limits visit www.OutdoorsWithoutLimits.org or call 616-698-7787 or email info@OutdoorsWithoutLimits.org.
For more information about partnering with OWL email partners@OutdoorsWithoutLimits.org