At three, John Bokolas of Bella Vista, Ark., faced a life-threatening battle with leukemia. Now 13 and cancer-free, the teen had the unique opportunity this summer to celebrate his hard-fought victory with an epic hunting adventure made possible by the non-profit Outdoor Dream Foundation, BRESSER and a network of hunting industry sponsors. Under the guidance of an experienced team from BRESSER, John and two of his close friends embarked on June 22 to hunt black bears, fish for steelhead and salmon and camp in the wilds of Idaho.
“I have been John’s wrestling coach, Scout leader and ride to many events over the years. When I was told about the Outdoor Dream Foundation and their mission, I had to see what I could do,” said BRESSER representative Chris Klein, who was one of the trip’s chaperones. “John got dealt a rough start in life. There are not enough ways to thank the people and organizations that are helping to make this hunt happen.”
John’s mother, Amy Bokolas, said her son was almost in disbelief when he learned about the trip.
“He’s very much an outdoorsman and loves to be out in the woods. He’s really fearless, which is difficult for a mother, but I wouldn’t change him for the world,” she said in an interview before John’s trip. “He has always loved hunting and fishing but hasn’t really had any sort of opportunity to go hunting. This will be a new adventure.”
In addition to the Outdoor Dream Foundation, which grants outdoor adventures to children who have been diagnosed with terminal or life-threatening illnesses, and BRESSER, the trip was sponsored by Montana Rifle Company, Corbon Ammunition, Mossy Oak and Hunter’s Specialties, which plans to feature a piece about the trip on the television show, “The Stuff of Legends.”
"Working with The Outdoor Dream Foundation and their children has really been an outdoor dream for me as much as the kids. We have helped make many dreams come true for so many kids,” said trip chaperone Dieter Kaboth, a national account rep for BRESSER who is also a life member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation that surprised Bokolas with his own rifle upon his arrival in Idaho.
“Montana Rifle Company and our employees are very proud and excited to work with the Outdoor Dream Foundation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Dieter Kaboth on this project,” said Jeff Sipe, director of sales and marketing for Montana Rifle, who will donate the rifle. “Nothing can take away the pain he has gone through, but we hope the time that John will be on this hunt and the rifle we have built for him will give him hope and encouragement to know that he is not alone and that even strangers like us care.”