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Local youth: Right at home in the outdoors

Jon Quirk at home. Photo by Patrick McAbee. (click for larger version)
November 30, 2011 - Jon Quirk is a hunter, swimmer and can handle a kayak. The 14-year-old Brandon Middle School student has even spent some time on area ski slopes.

"I like the adrenaline rush," smiles Jon. "When they say I can't do it, I just look to prove people wrong."

Jon's rather adventurous spirit and passion for a challenge takes on a different spin considering the physical obstacles he's battled over his lifetime.

Jon was born with spina bifida, a birth defect in which the bones of the spine (vertebrae) do not form properly around part of the spinal cord. In severe cases, it can make walking or daily activities hard to do without help.

The condition has prompted about 20 surgeries since birth for Jon, most at Children's Hospital of Michigan in Detroit says Peggy Quirk, his mother. Jon attends school in a wheelchair, but gets around home and most of his outdoor activities with crutches and leg braces.

Last month, Jon joined the ranks of successful area deer hunters.

With the help of Jim Callahan, a friend of the family, Jon bagged a deer on the evening of Nov. 13 with a crossbow. Jon participated in the Michigan Apprentice Hunter program for those under age 17.

"That was my first deer hunt," said Jon. "My whole life I liked animals—I like to fish, too— pretty much any outdoor activity."

Jon is also active with Michigan Adaptive Sports, an educational organization established for the purpose of providing sports, recreation and physical fitness opportunities for persons with disabilities.

After high school, Jon hopes to continue his interest in animals and study marine biology.

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