Hometown Hero on the Hunt

By Andy Justus
Tuesday, 9 Feb 2016

It’s a road Joe Chris Rodriguez thought he would never take. Considering where he’s been, this journey to J-BAR-J ranch for an exotic hunt shouldn’t have been in the itinerary.

Rodriguez explains why a trip of this magnitude is so rare. “When you get disabled or have an accident you think, I’ll never be able to do this. I’ll never be able to do that.”

Thousands of people just like Rodriguez were moved to join the military after the attacks on September 11th of 2001. He was moved to join the Air Force but he missed his plane to Afghanistan.

“Right after 9/11 I was fixing to ship out to go to war in Afghanistan. The night before I got shipped out. I got shot in a random act of violence. it forever changed my life, turned my world upside down and left me paralyzed.”

Rodriguez was rushed to the hospital unsure of what was happening. The only thing he knew is that he couldn’t feel his legs. Doctors would later tell him he would never walk again.

More than a decade later, Rodriguez isn’t walking but he is moving thanks to Trinity Oaks. The non-profit organization based out of San Antonio heard about Rodriguez and his work in the community with disabled athletes. They decided to gift him an Action Trackchair.

Garrett George with Trinity Oaks has seen the difference these chairs make to veterans who were told they’d never hunt or fish again, “It allows these guys the freedom to do the stuff they never thought they could do again.”

Trinity Oaks gave Rodriguez the chair during a the half-time of a San Antonio Spurs basketball game. This was the first time it’s being used for what it was intended, putting a veteran back into the great outdoors.

Prior to this gift courtesy of Trinity Oaks and the Lee and Edith Kidd Foundation, there were a lot of roads less traveled by Rodriguez.

“When you’re in a chair you look at everything totally different. You look at the road and it’s not just a road.”

Normal roads are hard to find at J-Bar-J Ranch but that’s not a problem for Rodriguez and his Action Trackchair, “In the wilderness with the track chair, you’re gone. You can go anywhere you need to go.”

Anywhere happens to be a few miles outside of Clarendon, Texas. The non-profit Life and Liberty Outdoors has set up a unique hunt for Rodriguez.

Wiley Hicks with Life and Liberty Outdoors has taken several veterans on hunts like this. He says it’s a difference maker. “It’s a small gift compared to what he’s given us. It gives them a chance to get away from their troubles for three or four days.”

This hunt took months of planning between the Trinity Oaks and Life and Liberty outdoors. In the end, one hometown hero was able to return to the wilderness and reclaiming what someone tried to take from him more than a decade ago.

Read the full article on The High Plains website