Clay Shooting for Hope in Western Pennsylvania
by Hugo Bravo
Earlier this month, The Salvation Army Western Division hosted its sixth annual Shoot for Hope fundraiser for the Army’s Pathway of Hope program.
The outdoor clay shooting event at Highlands Sporting Clays in Pennsylvania had 20 stations, each with targets being shot out at different speeds and heights. Going through 100 targets took about three hours for the 95 shooters who competed that day.
“For our participants, it’s a time for bonding, camaraderie, and laughter,” says Lauren Fair, divisional social services director for The Salvation Army Western Pennsylvania Division. “Target sports like clay shooting and archery are very popular in Western PA.”
This year’s Shoot for Hope honored Michael Stark, a beloved member of the Army’s Western Pennsylvania advisory board who passed away last December. He was a big supporter of Pathway of Hope and the work it did for families in Western Pennsylvania to break the cycle of crisis and poverty. Stark was also an avid clay shooter, and Lauren says that Shoot for Hope was a product of his hard work and dedication to The Salvation Army.
“We used to say that 90 percent of the people who came to Shoot for Hope knew Michael in some way. Since our first year, he was very involved in picking dates to have the event, visiting shooting sites to host it, and bringing sponsor teams to us. One of our earliest sponsors, BNY Mellon, came on board because Michael was an employee there,” says Lauren.
“This was our most successful event since we started Shoot for Hope. We had the largest turnout, most sponsorships, and raised the highest amount of money to date,” says Lauren.
She also noted another positive increase in the event’s numbers. When Shoot for Hope originally started, there were very few women competing. At this year’s event, women made up ten percent of all shooters.
“It was a bittersweet but beautiful day for everyone that knew Michael Stark. We all felt his presence there with us as we celebrated two things that he loved: clay shooting and Pathway of Hope,” says Lauren.