Kirk Thomas is 56 years old. He was born and raised in Meridian, MS, where he grew up hunting & fishing with his father and brothers. Their dad wanted them all to be eagle scouts when they were boys so that’s what they were. “We hunted almost everything but ducks,” Kirk says, “but mostly we deer hunted. My first hunt ever was a dove hunt when I was nine, I think.”
Kirk’s fateful day came during the fall of 1992. He decided to go hunting alone one day after Thanksgiving nearby where he lived in Alabama. “I was just walking out of the woods back to my truck and the next thing I knew I was flying through the air,” Kirk recounted. “A tree fell and hit me right on the shoulder! I didn’t know what happened.”
What happened was he’d broken his back at the T-12 level. He spent the next 52 days at UAB hospital in Birmingham, AL, and when he got out he went right back to work. Kirk had a wife & kids at home relying on him so he knew he had to keep going. The following October, Kirk was in the woods again bowhunting by himself, this time armed with a crossbow. He killed a doe and had every intention of draggin’ it out of the woods with a rope behind his chair. He said he made it about 20 feet before deciding to go get the truck.
One day, Kirk was asked to attend a meeting for Independent Living in Birmingham and he decided to go even though he had no idea why he should. While there, Kirk began asking people if they hunted, and if not, why they didn’t. He left that meeting wondering why so many people couldn’t hunt like he could. That really bothered him. There were 56 people with disabilities at that meeting.
Not very long after, while laying in bed one night, Kirk created what would become the Wheelin’ Sportsmen organization. The next day, he took that idea to a bunch of his friends and told them that they were going to change lives. This was during the year 1996 in Montgomery, AL, where Kirk lived at the time. They decided to create an event for disabled people to attend a catfish roundup, advertised it through the rehab hospital and a local newspaper. 456 people in all showed up. After that, they scheduled a fall deer hunt and the rest is history.
Kirk went on to start Outdoors Without Limits which he runs today. He’s hosted 100’s of hunting, fishing, shooting & archery events, and he’s made them so anybody with a disability can participate.
Outdoors Without Limits