Reading the daily news, it seems like the world is more and more violent or threatening. Actually, the current crime rates are approximately the same as those of the 1960s and violent crime today is almost one-third of what it was in the 1970s. Gun homicide is down 49 percent since 1993, gun violence in general is going down, and accidental injuries and fatalities by guns are also down considerably. We hear little good news about guns and gun owners, who too often get stereotyped as automatically being all bad people. In reality, many gun owners are humanitarians, and one of the organizations that is using sport shooting to promote a worthy cause is the Kids & Clays Foundation. Kids & Clays raises money for the Ronald McDonald House Charities, which supports the 271 Ronald McDonald Houses that provide a “home away from home” for families of seriously ill children receiving treatment at nearby hospitals.
Kids & Clays got started in 1999, when Glenn and Kathy Lubeznik, McDonald’s owner/operators in Northwest Indiana, chaired the first annual Sporting Clays Tournament Event benefitting the Chicago Ronald McDonald House near the University of Chicago Children’s Hospital. With the support of Winchester Ammunition, McDonald’s Owner/Operators and McDonald’s Suppliers, the event hosted 137 participants and generated over $16,000.
The next year, companies and organizations like Browning, Charles Daley, Pace American Trailers, Coca Cola, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), and the National Sporting Clays Association (NSCA) followed Winchester’s lead and agreed to support the event as sponsors. More than 220 participants shot in the Chicago tournament and the Chicago Ronald McDonald House was again the beneficiary, this time bringing in over $58,000.
In 2002, Sporting Clays Tournaments were held in Orlando, Florida; Detroit, Michigan; Columbus, Georgia; and in St. Louis, Missouri. Proceeds from each of the events benefited the Ronald McDonald Houses in their respective areas.
Also in 2002, the NSCA named the Ronald McDonald House National Sporting Clays Foundation their Official Charity. The National Skeet Shooting Association (NSSA) did the same in 2003, followed by the Amateur Trapshooting Association (ATA) in 2004. In 2005 the Foundation’s name officially became the Kids & Clays Foundation, benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities. In 2007, the Foundation partnered with 15 Ronald McDonald House Shooting Sports Events and generated almost $1,000,000. In 2012, the $1,000,000 mark was broken when the combined net revenue from Kids & Clays sponsorships and Ronald McDonald House Sporting Clays events exceeded $1.2 million.
To date, the Kids & Clays Foundation has generated nearly $11,000,000 through holding sporting clays, trap, and skeet events. More importantly, participation in these events has raised awareness for Ronald McDonald House Charities among thousands of shooters, while assisting the thousands of families served by Ronald McDonald Houses each and every day.
In August of this year, Kids & Clays announced a new Executive Director, Doug Jeanneret, who formerly was Vice President of Marketing for the US Sportsmen’s Alliance. Doug holds degrees in wildlife management, environmental communications and a master’s degree in public relations, and he’s an avid shooter and outdoor enthusiast.
According to Doug, “Personally, This is a great opportunity for me as it combines two of my passions toward one very important goal. I welcome the chance to help children and their families improve their lives while utilizing the generosity of the outdoor industry to make it possible. In 2014, we supported 13 sporting clay events around the country and they raised nearly $1.2 million for Ronald McDonald House Charities and their mission to help critically ill children and their families.”
Doug says they hope to expand to 17 events in 2015 held all around the US. And, if you are lucky at one of the events you may meet five-time Olympic medalist Kim Rhode, who is the National Spokesperson for Kids & Clays.
But, you don’t have to wait until next year to support Kids & Clays. Your gun club can donate some of the money collected at local events, or you can personally donate online.
Another way to lend support is by participating in their annual online sweepstakes. The winners for 2014 included a Blaser F3 Grand DeLuxe Shotgun, and an E-Z Go Blue Electric Express Cart. Their 2015 Sweepstakes will be posted early next year.
And if you are going to SHOT Show, stop at the Kids & Clays booth and say “Hello.”
Show people that sport shooters are good guys. Support Kids & Clays and other groups like them so people know that sport shooters are doing good humanitarian work.