ELKO — Hunting season might be a highlight of many Elko County residents’ year, but for Andy Bell, getting outdoors and participating in the hunt is inspiration to live — and he wants to share that joy with others.
Bell grew up hunting, but his life changed when he experienced a rodeo accident as a high school junior in 1998. After five months in Nevada and California hospitals, he emerged a quadriplegic.
He still hunts and this year has an archery deer tag, but the outings require some assistance. Helpers take him out, stay with him and cock the crossbow that he’s allowed to use by state law.
“It’s something I look forward to each year,” he said. “I mean, it’s what I live for each year. It’s one of the driving forces that keeps me going. Between that and church.”
Knowing how much those outings lift the spirits, Bell started DCB Outdoors in July. DCB stands for “Disabled Country Boy.” The business sells caps for $25 each and will use the proceeds to sponsor disabled people on hunting trips. Bell also hopes to someday film the experiences.
Bell formed the business to “just to show them that you can still do [things],” he said. “There is still a life out there.”
Nathan Hornback, Living Stones Church lead pastor, has known Bell for about three years and has watched his congregant’s journey from sadness to hope.
“After his accident, it’s amazing to watch him come back from being so young and feeling like his life was taken away from him to going out and starting a business,” Hornback said. “When he realized that his identity is not his wheelchair — it’s the passion that God put in him — I’ve just seen a new trajectory for his life, and it’s of hope and the desire to share that with other people, and it’s incredible.”
Bell tries to share that sense of hope through his work at American Home Companion, a Reno-based company that provides patient care and supportive living assistance in Elko. Program employees, including Bell who is also a client, take people out in the community to meet their social and recreational needs. In his job, Bell assists a person with an intellectual disability.
“He’s probably one of the most caring people I’ve ever met,” said Amanda Tueller, director of American Home Companion’s supportive living assistance program in Elko. “He takes very good care of the one person we have assigned to him. [The client] is on the autistic spectrum. He’s very patient with him and caring.”
Founding DCB Outdoors fits Bell’s personality, Tueller said, and fulfills a need.
“I think it brings a lot of awareness,” she said. “We try our best to bring services to disabled people, whether that’s physically or mentally, but there are a lot of gaps there, and he’s worked to make that community a little more solid and is helping people out there.
Tueller and others at American Home Companion have already purchased hats to support DCB Outdoor’s cause: to help, inspire and give hope to individuals with disabilities.
“It’s hard after a disability because your whole life changes,” Bell said. “You think, ‘I can’t do this. I can’t do that.’”
But Bell reminds others that they can still get out and participate in activities, even if the process is a little different.
“You have to have help doing it, or go about a different way doing it,” he said. “It also helps the people around them, too — I do believe — because their attitude changes, and they’re finally excited about something again.”
Starting DCB Outdoors gave Bell something to be excited about. When he attended church after getting his business license, Bell was “just beaming ear to ear. He sits in the front row, and it was just neat to see the joy coming off of him,” Hornback said. “I just realized Andy’s smile is going to be contagious.”
Visit facebook.com/worldofdcbhunting or call 340-8502.