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Aiming For A Cause: Philanthropic Sport Shooting Events In The Palm Beaches

When it came time for John and Erica Garwood to organize a charity event in honor of their late son, Mark, they wanted to host a fundraiser that resonated with themes of ambition, of strength, of recovery. Of aiming for the stars—or even shooting for the moon.

“Instead of doing another golf tournament, which everyone groans at, we thought we’d be a little more creative,” John Garwood says.

Thus, the inaugural “Shoot for the Moon” sporting clays competition was born. Held last March at the South Florida Shooting Club in Palm City, it succeeded in soliciting $20,000 in scholarship money for the Mark Garwood SHARE Foundation.

This is just one example of a burgeoning trend on the charity front in South Florida—inarguably the golf capital of the U.S. More and more organizations, non-profits, schools and special interest groups are hanging up their nine irons and picking up their rifles and shotguns, opting for a day at the target range versus one hitting the links for their fundraising endeavors. 

As more sporting clay events emerge, local charities get a chance to raise awareness and funds for their native causes. Participants include both experienced shooters and newcomers to the sport alike. 

Read along to learn about major charity shooting events that are keeping a purposeful communal spirit on target for 2018.

South Florida Shooting Club

The Palm City-based gun range and clubhouse boast four fully automated sporting clay courses where a number of charity events are held throughout the year.

Boy Scouts of America, Gulf Stream Council 

Friday, Jan. 26

The January clay target shoot is the 20th annual for the Palm Beach Gardens-area branch of the Boy Scouts. All proceeds will benefit expenses for running its summer camp for cub scout packs and troops.

“The money raised does go into operating, but a lot of it goes toward kids in need [who can’t afford to attend camp],” says Angela Kolp, the council’s development specialist. 

The all-day event begins at
7:45 a.m., with a one-hour lunch and awards reception topped off with live music. Attendees will participate in four-person teams, where sponsorship opportunities are available between $2,500 and $10,000.

There’s also a young professionals team for shooters younger than 35 who can be sponsored for $1,000 per team, or $250 per person. 

“We want to make sure everyone has an opportunity to sponsor,” Kolp says.

The council anticipates about 200 participants this year, or 50 teams. 

For more information: angela.kolp@scouting.org

Treasure Coast Rowing 

Saturday, Jan. 27

The second annual clay shoot in late January benefits the juniors racing team of the 85-member Palm City Rowing Club, for which last year’s inaugural event raised more than $10,000, according to event coordinator Maria Vallecillo-Dunn. Proceeds will benefit the purchases of boats and equipment for upcoming rowing competitions.

“Rowing can be an expensive sport—the boats and the oars,” she says. “We don’t want the cost to be an impediment to get in a boat. We try to fundraise to keep the cost per rower down.”

This year’s clay shoot includes light breakfast, ammunition, golf cart (one per four-person team), scorecard, trappers, awards for top shooters, a barbecue lunch, beverages, side games, awards ceremony for top junior, adult and team shooters, and a few more surprises. 

Shooters of all ages and skill levels are welcome. Sponsorship per team member is $250. Teams will move through 15 stations and the difficulty level increases at each stop; one clay pigeon turns into two, and even three, sometimes changing direction midair.

For more information: 772.215.9609 or tcrcclayshoot@gmail.com.

Mark Garwood SHARE Foundation 

Friday, March 23

John Garwood hopes that this year’s Shoot for the Moon event will be a resounding success in the clay competition’s second go-around.

The non-profit SHARE Foundation was formed after Mark Garwood passed away in 2014 due to complications from diabetes and a prescription drug addiction following a hospital stay. The Foundation raises money both for college scholarships, to raise awareness about the dangers of drug use and to assist people in recovery.

“We’re trying to bring awareness to the opioid crisis and the damage it creates in our community,” John Garwood says, “but the scholarship program is to get people a leg up and to give back.”

This year’s goal, dovetailing with the Foundation’s $20,000 target, is to attract 120 attendees to the Shoot for the Moon event. “We’re hopeful to max out this year,” John Garwood says. The day-long shoot, which starts around 8 a.m., will offer individual and team options. Sponsorship for a team of four costs $1,250 and includes a golf cart, clays, ammunition, trappers and shooters, breakfast and lunch. 

Like other events at the South Florida Shooting Club, clays come out in different variations across 15 stations, meant to mimic the flight patterns of different hunt birds, like quail or pheasant. Garwood explains that there’ll be a team competition, and also a shotgun event; each participating team gets an award at the luncheon, for first, second and third place, plus best overall men’s and women’s.

Among Shoot for the Moon and other events, John Garwood says the SHARE Foundation has awarded $250,000 in scholarship money to nine recipients in two years. 

For more information: markgarwoodsharefoundation.org.

Quail Creek Plantation

The preserved open space and pastoral landscapes of Quail Creek Plantation in Okeechobee are home to opportunities for big game, pheasant, quail and turkey hunting. The plantation also hosts numerous sporting clay shoot fundraisers throughout the year, says Maria Fanizzi, Quail Creek’s administrative manager.

Three events are scheduled so far for 2018.

Sheridan House 

Friday, Jan. 19

The seventh annual sporting clay tournament for Sheridan House is dubbed “Helping Families Stay on Target,” and raises money for children and families in need. 

Registration for the event opens at 7:15 a.m., and the day includes an 8 a.m. practice range, 9 a.m. event start, plus lunch, auction, gun raffle and awards. Participating shooters, in teams of four, must bring one shotgun per foursome and 100 rounds per person for the course. (Both can be rented on-site.) Five sponsorship opportunities are also available, including the Quail Creek Experience for $12,000, which includes four cabins at Quail Creek on Thursday evening (Jan. 18), a deluxe, eight-person steak dinner, shooter package for eight, prominent scoreboard signage and four stand sponsor signs.

For more information: 954.880.9545 or jadler@sheridanhouse.org.

Knotty Girl 

Saturday, Feb. 24

To celebrate its fifth anniversary, Knotty Girl, a breast cancer awareness non-profit, will hold its inaugural sporting clay shoot at Quail Creek Plantation. Registration starts at 8:15 a.m., the shoot commences at 9 a.m., with a 12:30 p.m. lunch, plus raffle prizes, a silent auction and awards for each winning division.

Knotty Girl was founded in 2012 by Diana Albritton, a breast cancer survivor who advocates the importance of monthly breast self-exams for all women. The non-profit’s familiar “Knotty Girl” illustration depicts a woman whose torso is in the design of the pink breast cancer awareness ribbon, but in the shape of a knot, for what Albritton says her tumor felt like when she discovered it through a self-exam in 2002. By the time the charity shoot takes place, Albritton will be cancer free for 16 years—right to the date, Feb. 24.

Albritton says a visit last year to Quail Creek with her husband and other friends sparked the idea to have a charity shooting fundraiser there. Of all the charity events at Quail Creek,  Albritton says none so far have been for breast cancer.

“We thought, ‘Wow! Clay shooting!’” Albritton says. “I wanted to make it a celebration and make it for all ages.”

The shoot is also for both women and men. In fact, Albritton notes that she hopes the event will raise awareness for breast cancer in men. Attendees aren’t obligated to participate in the shooting course and can attend just to show their support.

Kristy Harris, the non-profit’s social media coordinator,  says the event has no monetary goal in mind.

Registration options range from one- to four-shooter teams, and participation costs $125 per person. 

For more information: knottygirl.org or 863.464.1012.

Ronald McDonald House Charities 

Friday, March 2

Quail Creek Plantation will also host the second annual “Clays for a Cause” shoot for the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) South Florida on March 2.

Last year’s event at Quail Creek netted $100,000, says Soraya Rivera-Moya, RMHC executive director. 

According to Rivera-Moya, the target goal for 2018 is to raise $125,000 to $150,000 in funding for children and families served by the organization throughout Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Ronald McDonald House offers shelter to in-need families with children under hospital care. 

Last year, more than 200 people participated in RMHC’s clay shoot, some coming all the way up from Miami to Okeechobee. To accommodate a potentially larger turnout, a casino night has been added for those staying at Quail Creek Plantation. Registration for the March 2 all-day shoot begins at 8 a.m. and includes breakfast, a safety meeting follows at
9:30 a.m. and the tournament takes place at 10 a.m., followed by an awards/trophy ceremony.

Clays for a Cause has a Feb. 2 sponsorship commitment deadline and opportunities range from a 10 Gauge Sponsor title for $10,000, to a 20 Gauge Sponsor for $1,200, for which sponsors can support one to three squads of four shooters in the tournament. 

For more information: rmhcsouthflorida.org/events/clays-for-a-cause-2018/.

OK Corral Gun Club

 The Okeechobee shooting sports country club offers a rustic, mining town backdrop for guests attending weddings, corporate gatherings or charity and fundraising shooting events held throughout the year. Overnight lodging options include new cabins with Wi-Fi and a continental breakfast. 

Cardinal Newman High School Football Program 

October/November (date to be announced)

Late 2018 will mark the sixth annual Crusader Sporting Clay Tournament to benefit West Palm Beach’s Cardinal Newman High School football team. The goal of the fundraiser is to raise at least $30,000, according to event coordinator Mary Martens, who can’t confirm a date yet but says it will likely be in October or November.

Sponsorship details will remain the same into the sixth annual clay shoot. Teams will comprise of four shooters each, and prospective sponsors can choose from four levels, the highest being the “Presenting Sponsor,” which for $7,500 includes two teams of four shooters, two golf carts, lunch, four station signs and a promotional banner at the event entrance.

Teams and individuals can also sign up on their own. A four-person team costs $800 to register, and includes continental breakfast, a golf cart, lunch and a commemorative shirt. Individual shooter registration, at $200, includes the same.

Following the event, first place trophies will be handed out to various winners, including the Cardinal Newman Crusader team cup, first place ladies, first place men, first place junior boys, first place junior girls and first place football team member.

For more information: mmartens@cardinalnewman.com. 

Jupiter Farms Residents 

Saturday, Feb. 17

From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., participants can enjoy a day of competition and sport at the JFR clay shoot, the first to benefit residents of the Jupiter Farms community, and to raise money for scholarships and community event programs.

The 15-station shoot at OK Corral employs 100 clay targets and 100 single shots, where participants can take part in breakfast, lunch and an awards ceremony. Trophies are given to the first place team, first place ladies, men, junior boys and junior girls. There will also be raffles, door prizes and auction items. A $125 registration fee includes the entire day; golf carts are provided. (Note: Guns and ammunition are not provided.)

For more information: jupiterfarmsresidents.com.