A hunting accident has taken Bill Baker away from the sport he loves — archery.
The archer from Moultrie, Ga., a small town less than a four-hour drive south of Atlanta, is missing the ASA Texas Pro/Am Championship staged at Love Civic Center this weekend while he recovers from a spinal injury suffered when he fell from a tree stand. The fall left Baker paralyzed from the chest down.
For the last three months, Baker has been at Shephard Spinal Cord Center in Atlanta, where he is receiving rehabilitative treatment. The archer, who is credited with helping bring the Texas Pro/Am to Paris, is expected to return to his home Monday.
Baker was instrumental in making sure there was enough room to host the tournament and responsible for safety accommodations. His wife, Linda, registered participants Thursday at Love Civic Center.
Paris is the furthest west the ASA Tournament has been, and although many people don’t know Baker, they stepped up Thursday to contribute to a fund to help him with his recovery.
The Bill Baker Benefit Shoot took place for seven hours, and although no official numbers were available, it is believed to have been a success.
“I just want to give thanks to the Paris community and our fellow archers for their efforts to make this a success, and for the way they have welcomed me and others here,” Linda Baker said. “It’s such a wonderful feeling. Archery is something Bill really enjoys doing, and I know he would be here if he could.”
Paris was able to nab the ASA’s signature event one year earlier than it originally had planned and hopes to have it on a yearly basis for at least the next five to 10 years.
Mike Tyrell, ASA president, likes what he sees and feels positive about the city’s chances of hosting the Texas Pro-Am on a more permanent basis.
“I want people to come and see what a great job the city has done for this area,” Tyrell said. “I want to make sure everyone understands the long-term use of this area with nature trails, bike trails and archery ranges. This plan will benefit the entire community for years to come.”
For now, archers are trying to take care of one of their own. It’s all about participants coming together for the common good, something for which Archers for Christ is well known.
“We are appreciative of everyone who has supported us,” said Daniel Winters, public relations spokesman for Archers for Christ. “We’re raising money for a beneficial cause, and it makes me feel good personally the way fellow shooters are reaching out to one of their own.”
Drawings for door prizes take place at 5 p.m. today. Those who contributed to the benefit shoot had their names entered into the drawing. There is a free concert and barbecue at 6 tonight at the covered pavilion next to Love Civic Center. Cost for the meal is $7.50 per person.
By Tyler Clifton
The Paris News
Copyright © 2007 The Paris News