Teen diagnosed with cancer offered trip to Mayport farm through foundation

CLOE — Thanks to a group of caring people, a 14-year-old boy suffering from cancer was able to go on the hunt of a lifetime.

Mark Hildebrand, of the Tom Siple Foundation, said that D.J. Honneffer and his dad, Daniel, of Ellwood City, were treated to a deer hunt Nov. 20 at Byrd Yeany Farms in Mayport.

Byrd Yeany III suggested that his dad, Byrd Yeany Jr., offer a hunt to a deserving individual.

Hildebrand said D.J. has a rare form of childhood cancer, for which he is currently receiving treatments at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. He has exhausted all of his chemotherapy treatments and is now undergoing radiation treatments.

D.J. was originally supposed to have 31 treatments, but now, they will continue indefinitely.

“The doctors told them that the radiation treatments would slow the progression of the cancer, but it won’t kill it,” Hildebrand said. “If he feels good following the treatments, they’ll send him home. If he experiences a lot of pain with it, then they’ll continue to keep him there.”

Paul Thompson, pastor of the Cloe Charge United Methodist Church and a member of the Tom Siple Foundation, said D.J. loves hunting and was very excited about the opportunity to hunt a deer with a crossbow.

Hildebrand added that a friend of the family contacted the Horton Archery Company, which makes crossbows, and sent D.J. an inverted crossbow, a dozen arrows and a dozen broadheads for free.

Scott Shirey of M&S Meats in New Bethlehem agreed to process the venison for free.

“D.J. had a great time. For a little while that day, it took his mind off his problems,” Hildebrand said. “He saw the buck that he harvested several times before he was able to take it.”

“We’re always looking to bless those who are suffering through a traumatic illness,” Thompson said. “Sometimes, I think that we’re the ones that get blessed just by being there and lending an extra hand.

“It was nice because we had to help him a little bit; his one side didn’t work that well,” he added. “It was nice to coach him and then watch his excitement. That’s what we’re all about.”

The foundation is holding its second-annual spaghetti dinner fund-raiser at 5 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Big Run War Memorial.

The foundation was created for the sole purpose of helping to raise funding to provide the disabled or people with life threatening illnesses an outdoor experience for them and their families.

For more information, or if you know someone who you would like to suggest for a hunt or another activity, call Thompson at 938-3046.