Member’s will to carry on lands him the hunting trip of a lifetime
Aaron Heying took his girlfriend MaeLyn hunting because he wanted his bride-to-be to understand how amazing it was to be in a tree stand on a November afternoon. The Local 838 member in Waterloo, Iowa, also thought she ought to know in advance that this was where he would be on many November afternoons in years to come.
The John Deere Co. employee had been watching a really nice buck in the field to the south for a few nights and was waiting for it on that Fall 2010 day.
“We sat in the tree for three hours, heard some noises, and didn’t see much movement,” he recalled. “I was going to sit until dark. We heard the sound of a deer coming our way. I stood up to get my grunt call.”
But as he reached into his bag, the straps on his tree stand broke, causing him to fall backwards 23 feet. The fall left him paralyzed, tore his pancreas and broke many bones.
But it could not break him.
Heying knew he would go back to work and someday resume his favorite outdoor activity. Thanks to his own determination, his union and Union Sportsmen’s Alliance (USA), he’s doing just that. His union fought hard to get him back into the plant at a job he could do. He recently won a once-in-a-lifetime trip to a bear hunt in New Mexico, courtesy of USA.
The UAW recently became one of group’s charter unions and UAW members can receive a free USA membership by visiting the group’s webpage or by filling out the card on Page 22 in this issue of Solidarity.
“Our partnership with the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance gives our members the opportunity to join a first-rate outdoors organization free of charge,” said UAW President Dennis Williams, who is a USA board member. “Our members hunt, fish and are involved in a wide range of conservation projects which makes this partnership a natural for the UAW.”
Wherever your enthusiasm lies for outdoor activities, the USA is there to help with exclusive discounts on outdoor gear, the latest hunting and fishing news and tips, chances to win fantastic prizes and trips, the opportunity to participate in shooting events and conservation projects and a wide range of outdoor services.
‘I have always wanted to go on a hunting trip but have never gotten the experience or the money to do so,” Heying said in his application to win the bear hunt trip. “Now that I am in a wheel chair I told myself that I am going to make it happen some way or another.”
It’s going to happen and it will air on the Sportsman Channel early next year.
USA and the UAW have already partnered on a number of activities at the local and regional levels. USA supports the Region 4 Sportsman’s Banquet, while the region participates in USA’s Gun-A-Week calendar program. Local 1853 in Spring Hill, Tennessee, worked with USA to host a Sportsman’s Appreciation Day for its members, and in Kansas, USA assisted Local 31 with its CAP fundraiser.
“The support of nearly one million active and retired union autoworkers will go a long way to further the USA’s mission to unite the union community through conservation to preserve North America’s outdoor heritage,” said USA Executive Director Fred Myers.
For Heying, who volunteers by fostering a service dog that will eventually go to an autistic child or veteran, going on the bear hunt is a reminder of how far he has come since that fateful November afternoon.
“There were a lot of trying times ahead for everyone – friends, family, nurses and my bride-to-be, MaeLyn,” he recalled. “We are all still here and look for the positive things in life to get us through the bad ones. “
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