MORGANTOWN — Speechless, humbled, overwhelmed.
Those are some of the words Kevin Turner used to describe the feeling he gets from his work with Holy Pursuits Dream Foundation, a non-profit he founded with his son and daughter-in-law to provide hunting and fishing adventures for kids battling life-threatening illness.
He used those same words to describe a visit he made to the workshop of longtime friend and legendary Mountaineer gunsmith Marvin Wotring back in May.
“So I went down and when I walked in, it was laying there on the counter. And he just said, ‘Here, I want you to take this gun,’ ” Turner said. “And I was overwhelmed to be honest with you. I was speechless.”
You see, the gun in question was one-of-a-kind — maybe the ultimate relic for any devotee of WVU athletics — the first muzzleloader crafted by Wotring for the WVU Mountaineer mascot.
Wotring, who died in December, built that first model in 1978, and every Mountaineer muzzleloader since.
When the original was damaged one night in the mid-1980s by an overzealous Mountaineer, it was returned to Wotring’s shop for repairs, but never left.
Instead it became the desire of Turner and a host of Wotring’s friends — not to mention a list of former WVU greats and Mountaineer mascots.
“I was in the shop one day and saw it, so he told me the story. After that, I point-blank asked him ‘Is that gun for sale,’ ” Turner recalled. “He hemmed and hawed a little bit and basically said everybody and their brother had already tried to buy it. He just never would sell it. I think it was sentimental to him.”
That changed last May, when Turner was summoned to the shop and handed the gun, with one stipulation.
“He said ‘I don’t want anything for it. What you’re doing is a great thing. Take it and do the best you can when you sell it. I want it to support your Dream Foundation,’ ” Turner said.
And so it will.
Wotring’s first Mountaineer muzzleloader will be auctioned off Friday during the Bob Huggins Fish Fry fundraiser.
All proceeds from its sale will benefit the Holy Pursuits Dream Foundation.
Online bids can be made now at joerpyleauctions.com. Those who can’t attend the fish fry can still participate in the auction through the site, Turner said, explaining that the top online bid will be the starting bid Friday evening.
Turner said the auction represents the chance to own a true piece of WVU sports history, honor a Mountaineer legend in Wotring and support kids who are fighting an uphill battle.
“So many of these kids spend more time inside a hospital than outside. Anybody who hunts or fishes knows the effects of just being in the outdoors. We just want to provide some level of hope and healing to these kids by giving them a one-in-a-lifetime adventure,” Turner said, explaining the group has taken 40 kids on hunting and fishing trips across the United States in less than three years.
“The majority of these kids have dealt with more in eight to ten years of life than many of us will ever see,” Turner said. “We’re just trying to do our small part here, and we’ve been so blessed that good people like Marvin have backed us up and supported us.”
Tickets for the fish fry are $120 and available at wvucancer.org/give/giving-opportunities/fishfry. The event will be held at the Mylan Park Community Center. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
The evening will feature sports legends, live music, activities and more. Proceeds from ticket sales and other auctions will benefit the Norma Mae Huggins Cancer Research Endowment Fund and Remember the Miners Scholarship Fund.