Dream hunt making dreams come true for kids - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Dream hunt making dreams come true for kids

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SALINE CO. -- They call it the chance of a lifetime. The Illinois Dream Hunt has been making sure that kids with learning disabilities and critical illnesses get some of the best medicine: the great outdoors.

Hunter Ridenour, once a participant, is now a guide. He said the program changed his life.

"If it wasn't for the USSA and Miss Brigid, I wouldn't be talking to the camera. They brought me out of my shell,” Ridenour said.

It’s a common story with all the guides.  

"I came in here, and I saw other kids like me. That's really helped me out a lot,” guide Kayli Black said.

Black battled cancer at a young age and was one of the first participants in the Dream Hunt. This year, she's guiding the only girl at this year's hunt.

Dakota Young came all the way from Georgia to take part in the hunt. While it's her first year, she said it's really a dream.

"It's like I'm free, and I don't have to do nothing,” Young said.

Black said she wants to give Dakota the same experience she had 15 years ago.

"I promised this girl we're going to try to leave with something this weekend for her. She drove all the way from Atlanta, and I'm doing my best to make sure she doesn't go empty handed,” she said.

So they'll keep coming back and making an impact that could change a life.

"It does an amazing job for some kids,” said Black.

This year marked the 15th anniversary of the Illinois Dream Hunt, said organizer Brigid O'Donoghue. The Hunt is held by the United Special Sportsman Alliance, a non-profit organization that sends challenged youth and veterans on outdoors experiences.

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