On March 18th, gun aficionados, trained shooters, newbies and novices took to the 15-station course at the Gulf Coast Clays shooting range in Naples. The 85 participants, equipped with 12-gauge shotguns, were there to take part in the seventh annual Shoot Down Kids Cancer fundraiser for the American Cancer Society of Marco Island.
Since it’s inception in 2009, Shoot Down Kids Cancer has raised funds to the tune of a couple hundred thousand dollars. All money raised goes towards pediatric cancer research, treatment and care.
“We want the kids to be able to grow up and enjoy the things in life that we as adults have,” said Gary Landis, co-founder of the event.
The fundraiser is the brainchild of former American Cancer Society Marco Island presidents Don Henderson and Gary Landis. Seven years ago Don and Gary were trying to conjure up a new fundraising event for the society. Both avid clay shooters, the men jumped on the idea, and the innovative fundraiser was born. Each year Gary and Don organize the event, which has grown considerably since its inception.
“We’ve been doing this for seven years and each year we’ve been able to increase the amount of money we take in and hopefully we can build on that every year,” said Don Henderson.
This year Gary estimates that the Shoot Down Kids Cancer event was able to raise over $30,000 for the cause.
“I can’t thank Gary and Don enough for all they’ve done for the last seven years,” said Community Manager for the American Cancer Society Sue Olszak. “For all their support of the American Cancer Society and all they continue to do for us.”
The distant “pop” of the guns firing could be heard throughout the day, acting as a soundtrack to the fundraiser. The groups of participants moved between each station, performing over 100 shots.
Sporting clays, often referred to as “golf with a shotgun,” is a game that is designed to simulate the hunting experience. Each station along the 15-station course is equipped with three trap machines, labeled A, B, and C. The machines disperse the clays with varying levels of difficulty: A being the easiest, and C the hardest. The unpredictability of the clays, with their fluctuating angles and speeds, offers the shooter a realistic hunting simulation that requires quick thinking and a trained eye.
After the last shots were fired, the 85 participants sat down to lunch provided by Buffalo Wild Wings Naples. There they mingled, discussed their performance on the course and browsed over the auction items, which were donated by a myriad of local businesses, individuals, and organizations.
“It’s significant, it’s important and we’re being good citizens in the community,” said Gary Landis of the participants and donors.
This year the winning team was GNS America. Shooters for the team were: Wade Deal, Todd Deal, Budde Reed, Ken Sutherland and Steve Arbaugh.
The Marco Island Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society’s fundraising event will take place April 1st at Veterans Community Park, Park Avenue, Marco Island.
For more information call 239-642-8800.