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Children get day to focus on hunting, not illnesses

MITCHELL, Ga. --- Watching Tripp Boggus teach others about hunting was an inspiration to many at B&B Farms in Warren County.

Two of his friends -- Hunter Singleton, 15, and Carson Busby, 10, of Grovetown -- were equally inspirational.

The trio have something in common -- they have all battled a life-threatening illness in recent years.

But during the Dec. 20 Hunt for Life Winter event on the farm of Jeff Brooks the three boys were full of life.

Hunter is undergoing treatment for encephalomyelitis -- an immune system disorder. Hunter spent some of the day with Tripp, who served as a hunting guide for the first time.

"It was a lot of fun," said Tripp, 15, a freshman at Evans High School in Columbia County.

"I learned several things about hunting," said Hunter, who went deer hunting during the morning and practiced his marksmanship with a rifle midday before venturing back out to hunt in the afternoon.

Carson, a fourth-grader at Lewiston Elementary School, killed his first hog -- about 175 pounds --while hunting on the Ogeechee River near the Jefferson-Washington County line with Chad Tanner, of Davisboro, Ga.

"It was an awesome shot," said Mr. Tanner. "He dropped that hog in his tracks."

Even Carson was thrilled.

"It was very exciting," he said. "Hunting is a lot of fun."

It was a dramatic spin from where they once found themselves -- clinging to life with little hope of getting better.

Death was trying to intercept their lives.

"We simply weren't going to stand around and let that happen," said Jeb Boggus, referring to the brain cancer of his son, Tripp. "We were determined to stay positive and let the Lord see us through that big storm. And he did."

Like any 5-year-old boy, Tripp was full of energy -- some of which he got rid of by swimming and playing baseball.

"He was just like any ordinary kid his age," said Mr. Boggus, who along with his wife, Cindy, helped their son create Hunt for Life. "He liked it all -- the outdoors, too.

Hunt for Life is a nonprofit organization that offers children under the age of 16 and adults who have children under the age of 16 with life-threatening illnesses, such as cancer, an opportunity to fulfill their life dreams by hunting and fishing.

Mr. Boggus, a builder/developer throughout the Southeast, has hopes that Hunt for Life will someday become a national organization.

"We're not talking about dying when we all get together," Mr. Boggus said. "Instead, we're talking about living.

"That's what this group is all about."

He remembers how it all came about, including his son's courageous fight against cancer, which wanted to claim his life far too soon.

Even though Tripp didn't feel sick, he was, as his parents soon would learn.

They received a telephone call from their son's pediatrician informing them that it was urgent that they get Tripp to the Medical College of Georgia Hospital in Augusta as fast as they could.

"The doctor was so upset that he was crying," Mr. Boggus said. "I didn't know what to think at the time, and neither did my wife.

"We just knew that the doctor wanted us to get Tripp down to the hospital as quickly as we could get there."

The couple learned after an MRI that their son had an aggressive form of brain cancer and that he likely was not going to live much longer.

"He went from swimming in a neighborhood pool to being admitted to a hospital and being operated on in a matter of a very short time," said Mr. Boggus, an avid hunter like his son. "All me and my wife could do at the time was to keep our faith and pray a lot."

Tripp later was transferred to the Scottish Rite Hospital in Atlanta.

"The Lord opened the door for us there, just like he's opened so many doors in our lives since then," Mr. Boggus said.

The doctor there was optimistic, telling the Bogguses that their son was not going to die.

From that point on, it became a journey of living every day to its fullest.

It often was a struggle, especially when Tripp became a patient at St. Jude Cancer Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

"My wife stayed with him, while I stayed with our two daughters and took care of my business," Mr. Boggus said. "It wasn't easy."

The couple's daughters are Brittany, 18, and Karlie, 12. All Mr. Boggus could do was drive there sometimes to visit his wife and son.

"St. Jude is an unbelievable place," said Mr. Boggus.

He and his wife managed to get through the tough times of their son's treatments by remembering the story of Jesus in the Bible and how he was asleep at the bottom of the boat when his disciples went through a torrid storm on the open sea.

"The disciples were afraid, just like Cindy and I were," said Mr. Boggus. "In the Bible, they rode that terrible storm out. We said we've got to ride our storm out, too."

After about a year at St. Jude, Tripp's dad took him on a hunting trip.

"I carried him dove hunting, even though he was so weak he couldn't shoot the gun," Mr. Boggus said.

Tripp has enjoyed the outdoors ever since.

"He loves killing deer," his dad said. "But this year he wanted to help others get an animal."

For more information about Hunt for Life, call Jane Mozingo, the organization's executive director, at at (803) 270-5519 or go to

Web posted on Thursday, December 30, 2010

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