MIDLOTHIAN — Greg Goerig, Midlothian High School athletic trainer, is about to embark on the trip of a lifetime. He and friend Chad Waligura, who grew up together in El Campo, Texas, will leave June 4 for a 15-day African safari in Namibia.
Waligura, an avid sportsman, was injured diving into a pool at the age of 17, an accident that left him paralyzed. He developed a love for the outdoors when his father took him duck hunting at the age of 12.
“I’ve known Chad since first grade in El Campo. We both attended a private Catholic school. After his accident, we were even closer,” Goerig said.
In preparing for the trip, Goerig researched their destination and learned that more than 50 percent of the population earns less that $1.50 per day. It was then that the adventure took on yet another dimension and with the help of the high school athletes and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America students, the duo will be carrying school supplies, clothing items and un-inflated athletic balls to distribute to children in the area through the Safari Club International Blue Bag Program. Hunters participate taking blue bags with donated items to the villages to improve their quality of life, according to the organization’s website.
“The FCCLA class took over gathering donations. They had tons of stuff. We barely have room to pack our clothes. We are trying to squeeze it all in. They got boxes and boxes of stuff. They were my little elves,” Waligura said, saying they will also take lesson plans for teachers.
Goerig could hardly contain his enthusiasm about the project. He said he loves sports and loves helping people and he is looking forward to seeing the world from a different perspective.
“The kids there need help and I really can’t wait to see the kids. We are taking 150 pounds of supplies,” Goerig said. “The first thing we are going to do is air up the balls and let the kids have at it. I know the curriculum books will help the teachers.”
Goerig said he is “fired up” about the trip and discussed it with his wife Brittany before making his final decision. He said he has never been away from his family for so long.
Waligura said the trip is a 10-day, 10-animal safari.
“The gem is a greater kudu, which is a big antelope with corkscrew antlers,” he said, saying they would also hunt impala, springbuck and warthog.
This will be his second trip to Africa and a first for Goerig.
“I’ve been over there. It’s a different world. There is no fast food, no Walmart,” he said. “Protein is a premium there. If they want to eat meat, they have to hunt.”
His life may have changed 25 years ago, but his spirit for overcoming challenges and enjoying life has stayed strong. He has developed specialized equipment for disabled hunters, built a website for disabled hunters and launched Disabled Hunter Magazine, www.dishunter.com. He was a recipient of the 2010 Path Finder award through Safari Club International for accomplished disabled hunters.
“You can do anything you want. If there is something you want to do, you can get it done. Persistence pays off,” he said. “Failure is an important part of learning. I learn more from trying something and getting it wrong. Failure isn’t a disappointment, just part of the process.”
Contact Rebecca at email@example.com or call 469-517-1451.