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How many of us have true friends? People that you know, no matter what the case, will always be there for you. It is a matter of trust only this type of friendship can provide. In my case, it is two brothers, Scott and Gary Kolstad and their better halves, Candie and Becky.  Every year the six of us go on our annual anniversary weekend, since we all celebrate our annual wedding dates in October.  That was the case in March of 1999. Of course, we all had a great weekend of food and drink and companionship only close friends can enjoy. Little did we know that Scott and Candie would receive disturbing news upon returning to their Door County home.  In November of 1996, Scott and Candie were blessed with their first child, a beautiful little girl they named Amber. To be able to share in the excitement of such an event is beyond words. Her long dark hair and beautiful features, along with a personality that matched, made this little girl a joy to be around. Little did we know life’s challenges would rest solely on little Amber and her family.

In March of 1999, Amber was diagnosed with leukemia. The persistence of mother, Candie, enabled doctors to diagnose Amber’s disease at an early stage. Prayers were flowing as we all documented her progress as treatment was administered. You know, anytime we are faced with adversity, we always remember certain things that took place. My personal recollection was through all that took place, little Amber NEVER lost her signature smile that we all come to enjoy.  In June of 2000, a negative reaction to a drug put Amber into a coma. Candie and Amber were flown to Mayo Clinic while the rest of us drove to meet them. For a period of time, it was touch and go, again prayers were in order. After a miraculous recovery from her coma, Candie asked what little Amber was doing while she was asleep. Amber answered that she was playing with the angels. It was a wake up call for all of us, something I will assure you I will never forget.

Over the next several years, Amber was put to the test as she was trying to recover from the negative effects of the stroke she suffered. After numerous trips to rehab and slowly showing progress, Amber never lost her smile or the personality that accompanied her signature way. Always one to be the first to help around the house and take part in the normal activities is a testimonial to her upbringing.  As little Amber was growing up, hunting was a large part of her adolescent upbringing. I specifically remember one particular opening day of Wisconsin’s gun deer season. Amber’s dad, Scott, put down two beautiful whitetail bucks. Because it is legal to group hunt during gun season, I gladly put my tag on one of the two bucks. Now, just for a side note, no hunting group I have ever seen celebrate a successful hunt like the Kolstad gang. Compassionately known as the Carnot Creek gang, all deer that hangs on the meat pole is celebrated among family and friends as everyone can enjoy the rewards of success. Of course, Amber and Gary’s kids are a big part of the Carnot Creek celebration and they always invite my sons, Brad and Bryan, and my daughter-in-law, Nicole, and grand children, Tia and Keagan. Amber gets right in there to join in this customary celebration. Anyone who does not partake in this type of custom is really missing out on what hunting is all about.

Years pass by all too fast and before you know it, little Amber is hunting age. Her first order of business was to take the required hunters safety course. Like everything Amber has ever done, she not only passed her hunter safety course, but, did it with honors. Knowing that young lady as I do, it was not a surprise. In the fall of 2008, Amber took part in her first Wisconsin gun deer season. All decked out in her blaze orange, she got to enjoy what she had witnessed for years. Her progression from spectator to hunter had come full circle. I would drive over in the evenings to check on how she did that day and the first thing I would run into was that signature smile.

After the 2008 hunting season ended, I hit the road on the show circuit. At one of the shows, I ran into a long time friend, Dan Hendricks. Anyone who knows Dan understands what a character he is and his involvement with the crossbow industry and disabled archers. One evening over dinner, I brought up Amber’s story and asked if we could do something for her to get her out bowhunting. Dan put a plan into action. In March, he phoned me with the good news. The wonderful people at TenPoint crossbows had agreed to give Amber a crossbow. Barb from TenPoint and Dan had set up a meeting with the Kolstads to present Amber with the crossbow on Sunday morning, prior to opening the Wisconsin Deer & Turkey Expo in Madison, Wisconsin in early April. Like always, Scott, Candie, Gary, Becky and their daughter Myhria, my son, Bryan and his family, Sandy, Amber and I were there for the presentation.

What took place that morning was breathtaking! Barb and Dan headed up the presentation and the cameras were snapping pictures.  Not only did TenPoint give Amber a crossbow, but also, it was fully outfitted with all accessories including scope and bolts equipped with broadheads. Barb took Amber to the shooting lane and systematically, took Amber through the shot process. After placing two consecutive shots in the bull’s eye, Amber was ready to begin practicing and awaiting the 2009 bow season. I will submit her success photo to this publication this fall when Amber takes her first deer with her TenPoint crossbow.

My final comment is two-fold. First, people like Dan and Barb are the real heroes in my life. I do not judge people by how many animals an individual takes, but what they do to improve and secure the future of hunting.  Secondly is Amber. She is such an inspiration in our lives. Her outlook has given us all a lesson on enjoying life. Never has she ever been a burden to anyone, rather, a reason to share her life and never ending smile.

Posted in: Member Stories


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