Four years ago, I met well known, long-bow legend, Tred Barta. Since then, Tred and his wife, Annie, have grown to become close friends, as well as Christmas & Associates supporters. Tred and I have hunted New York deer, Montana elk, and have shared many laughs together. I have met many great people in the land business but none quite like Tred Barta. Most people who have watched Tred's show on the VS. Network know that he has a reputation for being crazier than a loon! What many do not realize is the depth and size of his heart.
Not only has Tred donated to many causes, he is also a generous friend. The first time that Tred and Annie came to visit, there was a great deal going on that weekend. It was the opening day of hunting season in upstate NY where I live. My farm and wood lots were loaded with deer that year! It was also Annie's birthday and my two, teen-aged sons were scheduled to play in a football game 3 ½ hours from home. Tred and Annie are extremely giving people and despite traveling all the way from their home in Vail, Colorado, insisted we go see my sons play big rivalry football. We managed to sit in a deer stand for an hour, then instead of sitting down to a nice birthday dinner for Annie, we drove 3 ½ hours one-way in through the Adirondack Mountains to watch two boys they had ever met play football.
Tred-in typical fashion walked right onto the sideline and up to my son, Joe, and shared some advice for the game ahead. The advice was a bit too colorful to print here but it definitely brought a smirk to Joe's face and he seemed to follow Tred's instructions pretty well! We drove all the way back to my house that night, dead tired but greeted by a crowd of over 50 folks and a great live band at my house. I had called and arranged for the party as a surprise for Annie. We danced, laughed and had a really great time! Tred paid special attention to all my kids, talking, taking walks, fishing, and giving sincere wisdom and good, lifelong advice, sharing some inspirational advice with all of us at Christmas and Associates-mostly about the importance of honor, quality of life, and living life to the fullest.
I received a call from a mutual friend and hunting buddy, Vaughn Esper from Montana who told me unbelievably, Tred had suffered a disabling spinal stroke with complications that left him near death.
Tred fought to survive over the next two years. No one can imagine the trials, setbacks, and hurdles that Tred continues to cope with. Several risky surgeries followed and Tred was confined to a wheel chair, however, he never lost his dignity.
This past June, my four boys and I traveled to our elk camp in southwest Colorado for a week of hiking and my son, Danny's graduation from high school. We traveled to see Tred and Annie in Vail, four hours north. I felt proud that my son's made that decision on their own due I am certain to Tred's impact when he had selflessly traveled to their football game many years before. Little did I know what was to come.
I was unsure if he would really want to see us. The day turned out to be one of the most moving experiences of my life and I am sure my sons feel the same way. Tred showed us around the ranch in a "track driven" wheelchair-only Tred could have thought of such a design. We shot pistols, hunted squirrels, told stories, and enjoyed some back-slapping and the usual "busting of chops" that Tred is noted for. Despite fatigue, Tred spent the entire day with us. He showed us his latest TV program, took us on ranch tours, and kept us laughing during the entire visit.
A million dollars couldn't buy the gift that Tred gave my sons and me that day. He talked a lot about being true to oneself and about living each day for all it's worth. I’m sure they will never forget it.
Seeing Tred and Annie again gave me faith that despite our problems, pain or struggles, we can and should keep our heads up and carry on. The love and prayers of the Christmas family go out to them each and every day.