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'Wheelchairs in the Wild' brings handicapped people to the outdoors

Many people go about doing good deeds in their families, neighborhoods, organizations and church congregations. “Utah Valley’s Everyday Heroes” celebrates these unsung community members and brings to light their quiet contributions.

Clint Robinson has been in a wheelchair for 32 years, after he was thrown off a horse at a rodeo and broke his neck. The first three months after his injury, Robinson said, were tough, even with the support of family, friends and the rodeo community.

“It’s a big learning curve from being able bodied ... to being bedridden, and put in a wheelchair,” he said.

Over the past 32 years, Robinson has pushed for accessibility throughout the community — including in the wilderness. Despite being in a wheelchair, Robinson has never stopped being an outdoors person, which inspired him to continue to push for accessibility in outdoor recreation such as hunting, fishing and so on, to the point of creating a pheasant hunt geared towards people in wheelchairs, called “Wheelchairs in the Wild.”

“What we’re trying to do is get new injured, handicapped people back out into the field, trying to get them back out, enjoying the outdoors and wildlife that’s out there and show them that there’s other things that they can do besides sitting in the house doing nothing,” Robinson said.

Robinson organized the first-ever wheelchair-accessible pheasant hunt last year with the help Division of Wildlife Resources law enforcement officer Jerry Schlappi, who’s known Robinson for years. Schlappi said when Robinson first approached him with the idea, he thought it was great.

“Hunting in general is great, I think for families,” Schlappi said. “And when he (Robinson) said he was trying to put something together with some handicap participants, I (thought), ‘man, what better thing to do than that.’”

Like Robinson, Schlappi said the hunt isn’t just for new hunters, but it’s also geared towards people who used to hunt and stopped after suffering an injury and haven’t known how to get back to it and be involved.

The event partners with able -bodied hunters who help handicapped hunters with whatever they need. Last year, Robinson said 13 or 14 handicapped hunters came, ranging in age from a man in his 80s to a young woman of 12, as well as ranging in injuries from spinal injuries to lifelong conditions like spina bifida.

The youngest hunter last year and this year was Missy Cowley, who has spina bifida. Missy, who is now 13, has always loved the outdoors. Her father loved to hunt and wanted to take her but wasn’t sure how to accommodate her wheelchair. Then the Cowley family attended a hunting expo where they learned about a different organization that provided what are called “track chairs” to disabled hunters to help them over wild terrain.

Missy hunted turkey, ram and then pheasant at the Wheelchairs in the Wild event last year and loved it.

“The first time I went hunting, I was like, this is awesome. I can actually do it,” Missy said. “It was really fun. And I love being outdoors.”

Missy’s mom, Cindy Cowley, said it was amazing to learn that hunting was available for Missy.

“We always told her when she was little, you can do everything you want to do ... but we just got to figure out a way,” Cowley said. “(But) we really did not know how we were going to get her up there to (hunt).”

Cowley described the different ways Missy has been able to hunt, which include hunting from a vehicle, such as a truck or a four wheeler, or using a track chair. Cowley said most of the organizations they’ve dealt with also allow handicapped hunters to hunt the week before and the week after typical seasons.

“(Handicapped people) need more opportunities to get out there just as much as anybody else,” she said.

Besides discovering a love for hunting and being able to pursue that passion, Missy — a spunky, outgoing teenager — said she’s loved meeting new people, especially people like her. As her mom, Cowley said she’s loved being able to see Missy do what she loves to do.

“When you have an organization like this ... it’s not just an opportunity for her to hunt and do what everybody else does. But it also shows everybody else that’s able bodied, that they can do it too,” Cowley said. “Even though (they’re) in a wheelchair doesn’t mean that (they) can’t do those things that everybody else does.”

Cowley also emphasized the importance of showing people who become wheelchair bound later in life that it isn’t the end of everything.

“When people have an accident or something happens to them ... they think that they can’t do (things) anymore,” Cowley said. “Then you have an organization like this, that’s like, no, you can still do it, you can do it different, but you can still do what you love.”

Schlappi said Robinson is a perfect role model when it comes to showing newly injured people that although their lives may be different, they don’t have to give up the things they loved before they were in a wheelchair.

“He’s never let his disability or whatever slow him down,” Schlappi said. “I think his whole thing is just giving people an opportunity and showing them that they can still do it.”

Robinson said he’s seen a lot of progress when it comes to accessibility in recreation over the past 30 years, and he’s hopeful for the future of accessibility, but he took the time to express his gratitude for various sponsors of the event.

“We’ve got a lot of great people helping us out this year,” he said. “I’d just like to thank everybody.”

Sponsors of this years event included the DWR, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, as well as Paskett’s Pit BBQ, which catered lunch to Saturday’s Wheelchairs in the Wild event.

“I just love organizations like this for people like me,” Missy said. “If you have a disability ... it’s OK to be different. Everybody is different ... you can do things different, just never give up.”

Tank commander from Ogden memorialized on 75th anniversary of World War II feat

OGDEN — A tank commander from Ogden who led the first American capture of a German town during World War II is being memorialized on the 75th anniversary of the feat.

Relatives of Lt. Richard Spencer Burrows are traveling to Roetgen, Germany, for ceremonies marking the U.S. 7th Army’s milestone breakthrough into the Nazi homeland.

Burrows commanded the 3rd Armored Division tank platoon that burst into the small town on the Belgian border at 2:51 p.m. Sept. 12, 1944, according to a division history written by Capt. A. Eaton Roberts in 1949.

Photo supplied Patricia Burrows Larson 


His daughter, Patricia Burrows Larson of Ogden, last saw her dad before he shipped out to train for the European war. She was 8 years old.

After the American forces moved past Roetgen, Burrows became apparently the first American ground casualty on German soil, felled by a German sniper after he stepped down from his tank to examine a road obstruction.

Burrows already had been wounded in France. He was posthumously awarded two Purple Hearts and the Silver Star.

Before the war, the Ogden native was produce manager at Stimpson’s Market at 26th Street and Monroe Boulevard.

Then, before joining the Army, “Spence” Burrows was an ordnance specialist at the Ogden Arsenal in Clearfield, Larson said.

“It was crucial to the war effort,” Larson said. “He didn’t have to go, but he enlisted.”

Burrows, already 32, had graduated from Weber Junior College and the Army sent him to officer training school. He went into combat in France after D-Day in June 1944.

“The last time I saw him, my mom and I went down to the railroad station in Ogden,” Larson said. “We were on the platform of the train and told him goodbye.”

In the push into Germany, Burrows was part of Operation Spearhead, commanded by Lt. Col. William B. Lovelady. Burrows’ platoon was part of the 83rd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.

“What a great guy,” Larson said of her father. “He was a really nice dad.”

She remembers that on a family outing before he shipped out, Burrows was in his lieutenant’s uniform.

“I was amazed that the soldiers all over had to salute him,” she said.

George Vogel of Ogden, Burrows’ great-nephew, said the community of Roetgen — “a little town exactly the size of Tremonton” — is holding a memorial ceremony Sept. 12 and the local history society is hosting an event two days later.

He said the ceremonies commemorate Burrows and his fellow soldiers, as well as the first German soldier who was killed there in the ground invasion. A monument to Burrows and his men will be unveiled and the town will dedicate a memorial park.

“I think it is so nice that the German people want to do this,” Larson said.

Vogel said he learned of the town’s plans only after he began researching his great-uncle’s history a few years ago.

“I had heard the story growing up and just wanted to kind of figure out more about it,” Vogel said. “To be honest, I was into military vehicles and knew he was a tank commander.”

He asked about Roetgen and Burrows in online forums and learned that organizers had been trying to find relatives of Lt. “Burroughs.”

Apparently some records of the conflict used the English spelling of Burrows, Vogel said.

Vogel, 53, and his wife visited the town a few years ago. They also went to the nearby Henri-Chapelle cemetery that holds the remains of Burrows and 10,000 other U.S. soldiers.

Vogel said he had mixed feelings about telling Larson of the Roetgen commemoration.

“It was a significant event in history, but it was where her dad died, and in that way it was a tragedy,” Vogel said.

“I’m happy that her dad is getting a little notoriety,” he said.

Larson, who is an 85-year-old former state legislator, said her father wrote a “sad” letter home in June 1944.

“He told my mother he was so concerned about his men — he called them his boys,” she said. “Everyone was so tired, sleeping in trenches with the beetles and bugs.”

He also wrote about what he wanted to do when he got home and told his wife how much he loved her and their daughter. Plus, he hoped the couple would have more children.

“He told my mom she should get married again if he didn’t come back,” Larson said. “She never did.”

Orem seeks input from last group of neighborhoods on long-range development plans

Residents living in the southwest quadrant of Orem, including the Sunset Heights neighborhoods, Lakeview and Cherry Hill, will have a chance to help design the future of their neighborhoods.

A special kick-off to introduce residents to the planning process will be held at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 19 at Lakeridge Junior High School, 951 S. 400 West.

Since 2015, Orem long-range planners have been working with various neighborhoods to bring the best plans and desires of the residents to a workable plan. The Sunset, Lakeview and Cherry Hill neighborhood plan is the last group to be planned.

A special committee is formed between planners, other city staff and residents to discuss land use, transportation, economic conditions, public works issues, neighborhood preservation and then how they can implement the plan.

“We invite residents to be on the technical advisory committee,” said Emily Guffin, long-range planner. “UDOT and UVU will also be a part of the process.”

Guffin said the technical advisory committee will meet until January and then the city will do a complete draft and refining of all neighborhood plans. It will then be submitted for approval to be added to the city’s master plan.

“The more brains working on this the better,” Guffin said. “The intent is to get neighbors involved.”

One of the most important things the group will do is to prioritize their vision and goals for the neighborhoods.

The Orem, Sharon and Hillcrest neighborhoods recently completed their designs and plans.

The residents’ committees are first asked to formulate a vision statement for their neighborhoods. In the case of Orem, Sharon and Hillcrest, the vision statement included the desire to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety and promote public transit accessibility.

“We are dedicated to improving the connectivity and appeal of parks, trails and other open spaces,” the vision statement said.

These three neighborhoods include the new Arts District along State Street, the SCERA Center for the Arts, Scera Park and Pools, University Place, Orem High School, and several elementary, private and charter schools.

The area also has three major arterial roads including portions of University Parkway, 800 South, 400 South and 800 East.

The Orem, Sharon and Hillcrest neighborhood plan, as in other neighborhood plans, includes demographics, maps, renderings and survey questions and answersm with detailed information on how the residents’ committee put together its plan and what it is.

“The citywide goals are discovered through this,” Duffin said.

Some requests include sidewalks, bike lanes, speed limit control and more.

“They are being fulfilled over time,” said Jason Bench, planning division manager.

While some of the requests in these neighborhood plans throughout the city can be resolved, such a portion of sidewalk being replaced, some goals are more long range and span the next 20 years or more, according to Bench.

For residents who are interested on what their neighborhood plans look like they can visit and look under neighborhood planning.