The Dream Becomes Reality Bruce Brady Memorial Catch-A-Dream Program Gets Off the Ground

Mississippi Wildlife Magazine
By Cliff Covington
Winter 2000

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”   Isaiah 40:31

It was one of those crisp, clear spring days when it feels good just being alive. The sun had climbed above the towering oaks to the east and a morning breeze had set the pale green leaves of spring in motion. Away in the distance, an old tom sounded off, announcing the arrival of another spring turkey season in Mississippi.

Glancing over at Mr. Bruce, my longtime friend and hunting companion, I was met with a broad grin. Neither of us spoke, knowing instinctively what the other was thinking.  We each knew what we were witnessing was not like a miracle, but suspended around us like a work of art.  The moment could not last, but would be repeated time and again in the sights, sounds, and scents of yet another spring morning.  The distant gobbler was safe, for the trek to his strutting grounds would be more than my friend could muster at this point in his battle with cancer.  Rather than pursue the preaching tom, Mr. Bruce and I took advantage of the opportunity to spend precious time together while the serenade continued.

As we sat there on the bank of Bakers Creek admiring the marvelous wonders of God’s creation, we reminisced about past hunts and pondered future outdoor adventures. Our discussion soon turned toward children and the importance of their being a part of the outdoor experience.  I remember Mr. Bruce saying, “It is disappointing to see some people so intense in their everyday activities that they are unmoved by a golden dawn, a fiery sunset, or something else that occurs between these two magical interludes.  There is so much out there in nature to thrill us and give us an appreciation for life and beauty that it is almost a sacrilege to let it pass without etching it into our hearts and memories.”

“Nowadays many hunters insist on hunting alone from start to finish.  They willingly forego companionship, which provides some of the richest blessings of all, especially the companionship of children.”

Almost a year later Mr. Bruce and I sat around the kitchen table in his home in Brookhaven, Miss., discussing the idea of creating a wish-granting organization offering children with life-threatening illnesses the opportunity to experience outdoor adventures, including activities involving the consumptive use of natural resources.  As the consummate outdoorsman, Mr. Bruce instilled in others not only a passion for outdoor adventure, but a strong sense of environmental stewardship.  He relished times spent with family and friends in the field, regardless of location.  But his special devotion was to youth and he imparted his love for the outdoors to many children, including his own and their children.

Mr. Bruce continued to enjoy hunting and fishing even during his lengthy battle with cancer.  And he continued to mentor those around him, both young and old.  Aware that the outdoor experiences he had been blessed to enjoy were not being made available to seriously ill children, Mr. Bruce was extremely interested in the creation of an organization that would provide the opportunity for such wishes to be granted.  Having spent his entire life in the company of hunters, fishermen, guides, and outdoorsmen, Mr. Bruce was confident that the generosity of such people would provide the means necessary to address this need.

Following Mr. Bruce’s death on Feb. 8, 2000, the ground work began for what is now the Bruce Brady Memorial “Catch-A-Dream” Program.  The program is hosted by the Mississippi  4-H Foundation, a non-profit, 501(c)3 corporation.  Thus, contributions to Catch-A-Dream are tax deductible. To contribute to Catch-A-Dream, contact Dr. Marty Brunson at 662-325-3174.  The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries at Mississippi State University, through its Field and Stream Youth Program, has partnered with Mississippi Wildlife Federation to develop and implement the program on behalf of the Brady family and the 4-H Foundation.  Designed for “youth with precious little time to waste,” Catch-A-Dream has been established and managed in such a way as to ensure it will provide to targeted children and youth not only the opportunity to “catch an outdoor dream,” but also, spiritual encouragement that is often so badly needed by these children and youth.

In the Bible, the book of Proverbs says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: And when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  During his lifetime, Mr. Bruce trained up many children, myself included, in the joys of hunting, fishing and the outdoors.  Through the Catch-A-Dream Program, each of us has the opportunity to ensure that a child’s dream of outdoor adventure will come true.

Mr. Bruce’s wife, “Miss Peggy,” extends the following invitation to those who have a love for children and the outdoors: “I am confident you will seize the opportunity to make a life-changing experience possible for a young person.  I know through your generosity and concern we can all catch the dream and make a difference in the lives of these precious children.”

Mr. Bruce made a difference in this writer’s life and so many lives.  The legacy he left will continue to change the lives of children and their families through the Catch-A-Dream Program.  Those of us who have shared time and conversations with Bruce Brady are indeed privileged.  It is now time for us to extend that privilege to children and youth who face life-threatening illnesses by helping their outdoor dreams come true.   These children will never know Mr. Bruce, but they can know the same peace and the joy that outdoor experiences brought to him during his difficult battle. Mr. Bruce garnered hope through these experiences, drew strength from the Creator who made them possible, and savored his last adventures.  It is the objective of Catch-A-Dream to ensure that no child who qualifies would miss the opportunity to be blessed in a similar fashion.