- Associated Press - Saturday, January 2, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Daniel Ricketts provided the gift of hunting to two men who use wheelchairs.

Born 10 weeks premature after a car accident took the life of his mother in 1997, the 18-year-old Wetumpka man has lived his life as a highly functioning quadriplegic - he can only move his right hand - and recently, he purchased a rough-terrain wheelchair in order to hunt and fish. And to share that passion, the Faulkner University freshman gave two other men on Dec. 29 with the same chair as gifts.

“The reason I did this is because I know people struggle with certain situations, just like what I do, and I don’t want anything to make it so people can’t do what makes them smile,” Ricketts said before Zachary Culverhouse of Ashville, and Ryan Evans of Seman, were presented with their chairs.

The chair gives someone the ability to explore the outdoors. They resemble a tank, and can go off road through creeks, the beach and into the woods. They also have a rifle mount.

The donations are being managed through Iron Men Outdoor Ministries, who provided the men trailers in order to haul each chair. The men, who were chosen by the ministry for the chairs, tested them Tuesday in the parking lot of Store Room Fastener.

“We get on our knees and we pray that good things happen to people,” said Rick Murphy, executive director of Iron Men Outdoor Ministries. “We met Daniel about six years ago, and … about a month ago, we got a call from Daniel, who said he had been praying. And that he wanted to hunt and said he wanted to give back and help give two away.

“He amazes me.”

The main mission of the ministry, Murphy said, is to let people with disabilities know “the Lord loves them and that we love them. And that He’s right there for them no matter what their disability is, or what’s wrong with them. Once you teach a child like this and you show him the love … once you show him that, then they want to give it back. Those two boys learned from Daniel to give. And Daniel learned from a ministry to give.”

Ricketts was born via emergency C-section on March 21, 1997, after the car his mom, Sara Ricketts, 27, was driving on Snowdoun Chambers Road collided with a truck.

Today, he lives with his grandparents Judy and Glen Denner of Wetumpka. Judy Denner said Ricketts, a 2015 Wetumpka High School graduate, is studying industrial psychology.

“He has a giving heart,” shes aid. “He wants to help improve other people’s lives with the chair that has helped him so much. He was talking recently about being an advocate for people with special needs. He has a car salesman-type personality. He could probably raise millions for charities.”

Ricketts, who has been involved with Iron Men Outdoor Ministries for several years, and said he likes making people smile, and being able to “do the same thing that I can do, like hunting and fishing. And I know that normal chairs can’t do that. So I wanted to spread the joy that I get from my chair to other people that are just amazing people that totally deserve it.”

Murphy said “God has charged this organization to do things like this for people who can’t do it for themselves. I’ve always been able to hunt and fish and have a good time, anytime I wanted to go. Well, they don’t get to unless somebody provides that for them. Well, we’re here to provide it.”

To learn more about Iron Men Outdoor Ministries, visit online at https://ironmen.info

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Information from: Montgomery Advertiser, https://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com

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