Updated: May 6, 2013 10:34PM
KNOX — Eric Corey may have died last January, but the Turkey Tracks Foundation he founded will continue to provide handicapped and terminally ill hunters the thrill and opportunity to do something they may never have conceived of — the ability to hunt wild turkeys.
Corey, a Knox resident, was first diagnosed with ALS at the very young age of 16, but he battled the disease in the best way he knew how. The avid hunter, with the aid of his parents, Doug and Carol Corey, and many volunteers, even travelled to Canada and Africa despite constraints that often limited him to a mobility device.
Corey wanted to give back the generosity he received over the years, believing that others with disabilities like him should have a chance to experience hunting.
And for much of the four years hunts have been scheduled, he did much of the planning, raising funds and garnering donations from companies such as Cabelas, and other volunteers.
The fifth annual Turkey Tracks hunting weekend on April 26-28 provided about 30 handicapped and terminally-ill hunters the opportunity to hunt turkeys — often for the first time and at no cost — in Starke County. Most of the hunters were children and young adults, but there really isn’t any age limit.
The Eric Corey Foundation sponsors the hunt annually and the weekend included housing in motels, a Friday night dinner, food daily and two days of hunting.
An avid hunter his entire life, Corey made it his mission to make sure other young adults with mobility challenges like him are able to experience the joy of hunting. Even though he passed away in 2012 at 25, Eric’s parents are honoring his wishes in keeping the event rolling and the Eric Corey Foundation was formed, at his request, to continue the hunting weekend aided by dozens of volunteers.
The event took place mostly on land opened to the hunters by farmers in Starke and adjoining counties.
What started in 2009 with a couple of kids in Eric’s home has now become a community-wide event with about 30 young hunters in 2011, volunteer guides, local farmers and supportive friends.
One of the first to help out was avid hunter and former Indiana University basketball player Landon Turner, who is paralyzed from the chest down from an auto accident. Turner has hunted several time in Starke County, and was a motivational speaker the first year.
As Eric always said, “it’s not about the birds, it’s about the friends you make along the way.”