by Sarah Snyder
It's a program honoring those who protect our freedom.
This past week, West Texans rolled out the red carpet for 26 injured troops, and now cities all over the nation are planning to do the same thing.
Since hunt for heroes began in 2004, they've honored 136 men in about 35 different trips.
It's a growing trend, and it has West Texas roots.
"People want to help and they don't know how," Terry Johnson, Creator of Hunt for Heroes, said.
Terry Johnson was just filling a tank of gas when an idea changed his life.
"One day I was filling up with gas, and my little "Support our Troops" magnet was fading out," Johnson said. "I finally read what it said, it said Support our Troops, and I couldn't imagine that putting that on my truck was doing anything."
Terry owns a West Texas oil company, but after that moment Hunt for Heroes became his passion.
Now every year, he hosts dozens of veterans from across the country for a hunting trip here in Texas.
"It really has given people a venue to do something; to stand up and be counted, show their support," Johnson said. "That's why we continue to get bigger. It's not because I go out looking for more folks to support. It's because they come to us."
And this year, they've come out in record numbers. Almost 400 volunteers and about 300 businesses lent their support.
"The people that are involved and help make it happen literally get as much out of is as they guys who get to take advantage and take a part in the program," Johnson said.
But this year proved to be the most successful yet. Something that started in West Texas will soon travel all over the United States.
"This will spring up all over the nation," Johnson said. "There was many people here that saw what we do and how we do it. They're going back now making plans to duplicate it for next year in their respective states."
During the next four months, Terry will help them plan turkey hunts and programs for 2009.
"It's overwhelming and powerful," Johnson said. "It was just an idea that took off on its own. I'm proud it did."
In two weeks, they'll load up the hunting gear again when ten more men come for a hunt in Alpine.
Alabama, Florida, Michigan and Mississippi are preparing to start their own version of Hunt for Heroes during 2009.