Outdoors

Generosity allows hunter to venture back into the woods

Ronnie "Little Ronnie" Adams, left, of Jacksonville, Fla., hunted for a couple of years from the blind his father, Ronnie "Big Ronnie" Adams of Smithfield built on a farm wagon, unable to get a regular wheelchair any farther into the forest. Now he has a track-equipped power Action Trackchair that handles the rough ground with ease. Seated on the ramp, from left, are family friend Ashley Spain of Smithfield, Big Ronnie Adams and C.J. Tussey of Four Oaks, Little Ronnie Adams’ friend since childhood.
Ronnie "Little Ronnie" Adams, left, of Jacksonville, Fla., hunted for a couple of years from the blind his father, Ronnie "Big Ronnie" Adams of Smithfield built on a farm wagon, unable to get a regular wheelchair any farther into the forest. Now he has a track-equipped power Action Trackchair that handles the rough ground with ease. Seated on the ramp, from left, are family friend Ashley Spain of Smithfield, Big Ronnie Adams and C.J. Tussey of Four Oaks, Little Ronnie Adams’ friend since childhood. PHOTO BY TERI BOGGESS

Determining who was happier was a tossup. There was the dad, ecstatic at his son’s newfound mobility. And there was the son, thrilled to be powering along a forest trail he had been denied.

Either way, the pride was clear as Ronnie “Big Ronnie” Adams of Newton Grove and son Ronnie Adams, now of Jacksonville, Fla., celebrated the Oct. 26 gift of track-equipped motorized chair.

“This will go just about anywhere. For the past few years, I could only go this far,” the 28-year-old son said Oct. 28 as he looked down a wide path in the forest understory on farmland just outside of Smithfield.

“This far” was a camouflage-painted wooden box blind built on an old tobacco wagon with a ramp to guide the manual wheelchair “Little Ronnie” has used since a 2007 car accident.

“We started raising this money a couple of years ago, then it just died with all the hurricanes and other things,” his father said. “Then Skip Valentine heard, and he just ran with it.”

Valentine, a Johnston County outdoorsman known for generosity and tenacity, raised the rest of the $15,000 needed for the Action Trackchair.

The money came “$500 here and $500 there,” Valentine said, from individuals and businesses, all part of the outdoors community known for pitching in to help fellow outdoorsman they haven’t even met. Many contributors were clients of Valentine’s Point of Neuse Plantation hunting properties.

“We’re really trying to help our fellow man,” Valentine said by phone. “His life got changed inadvertently, and we’re going to continue to change it.”

Ashley Spain of Smithfield, a lifelong friend of Big Ronnie Adams, admired the engineering.

“When they designed that (chair), they really helped a lot of people,” Spain said.

Little Ronnie Adams’ friend since grade school and South Johnston High, C.J. Tussey of Four Oaks, started to help Adams transfer into the Trackchair. Then Adams said, “I’ve got to be able to do it myself.”

Tussey was happy to step back, later saying, “It’s a relief. He’s more independent. … I’m just happy he can do anything he wants.”

The chair, black with hand-painted camouflage, will be used at home, too. Ronnie Adams, who works for Academy Sports and Outdoors, looked forward to surf fishing.

“It’s awesome,” Adams’ wife, Julia, said. “It will be much easier for him to get out to the beach. … He loves to be as independent as he can.”

Paddleboarding: Wrightsville Beach Paddle Club will host the N.C. Surf to Sound Challenge Nov. 3-5 at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort. The event benefits the N.C. Coastal Federation. Find a schedule at www.wrightsvillebeachpaddleclub.com/surf-to-sound.

Red snapper: The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council is opening the recreational season for red snapper in federal waters for limited harvest Nov. 3, 4 and 5 and Nov. 10, 11 and 12. Commercial harvest will run Nov. 2-Dec. 31.

Find details at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/s_atl/sg/2017/red_snapper_er_2017/index.html.

Send news and announcements to outdoors@newsobserver.com.

Boggess: boggess.teri@gmail.com Twitter: @BoggessT

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