PR story for the Children's Home of Tampa Bay
This PR story in Sporting Clays magazine, 2003, prompted the editor to call me to write a follow-up in 2004.

Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf

“The Bear” commands another win
for Children’s Home

America salutes him as “The Bear,” the gruff commander who led all U.S. military forces to win Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Now, just two days into Operation Iraqi Freedom, retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf was focused on his own humanitarian mission – to serve as honorary chair of the Children’s Home Sporting Clays Classic, north of Tampa in Land O’ Lakes, on March 22, 2003.

There, he welcomed 259 shooters who broke the charity's fund-raising target of $104,000. In fact, the participating teams raised $107,000 to benefit the children’s shelter, school and treatment center – in another successful campaign.

An avid bird hunter, Gen. Schwarzkopf stays sharp and improves his skills by shooting sporting clays; and he keeps the Children’s Home close to his heart.

If that seems inconsistent – that such a tough military leader has such a soft spot for America's most vulnerable children – well, that's his message.

“Gun owners sometimes get a bad rap,” said the general, noting that top sporting clay shooters were contributing to the charity event.

“Sporting clays is a fun thing to do. We’re not individuals competing with each other. And what’s great is you can take that fun and put it to a very positive cause.”

For him, the Children’s Home is a very postive cause. A 111-year-old former ophanage, today it guides and shelters abused and neglected children. It also provides family therapy, crisis intervention, education and vocational treatment, special-needs adoption and foster care.

Since its inception in 1892, the Children’s Home has cared for more than 16,000 children and has placed more than 6,000 in loving homes.

The sporting clays event attracted community service-minded supporters including Publix Supermarket Charities, title sponsor; and shooting on the general’s team, sponsors Paul Avery of Outback Steakhouse and Greg Albers of the Murray Company, general contractor. Also contributing were prize donors Cabela’s and Remington.

“We’re honored to have the support of Gen. Schwarzkopf, a man who cares so much for children and participates regularly in our events,” said Bill Arthur, Classic chairman for the past four years.

So, what's the general’s favorite sporting clays game?

“Well, the rabbits, of course,” he said, talking about the difficult challenge of shooting clays that scoot past on a bouncing roll.

A hardy team of volunteers from the local University of South Florida ROTC program supported the event by following orders. Some were recruited into pulling traps for the American hero.

When Gen. Schwarzkopf first became involved in the Sporting Clays Classic in 1995, event shooters numbered about 30. He’s proud that Tampa Bay Sporting Clays was hosting 350 participants by 2002.

The facility is a 285-acre natural habitat to abundant wildlife – ducks, deer, rabbits and turkeys – and a creek runs through it. Featuring three sporting clay courses, it’s Gen. Schwarzkopf’s favorite place to unwind, although these days “I have so little downtime,” he says.

When he was head of the Army’s Central Command, based at MacDill Air Force Base, he drove to a course with his chief of staff every Saturday, for an afternoon of shooting clays. After Desert Storm in 1991, he retired and settled in Tampa. Still, his schedule stays booked as a philanthropist, board member, public speaker, author and – if he's lucky – sportsman.

At the Children’s Home Sporting Clays Classic, after completing his course and speaking with reporters, Gen. Schwarzkopf waved off a ride and instead walked back to the event tent.

On his way, a rabbit scampered across the trail and disappeared in the pine underbrush.

Tampa Bay Sporting Clays is located at 10514 Ehren Cutoff, Land O’ Lakes, FL, 34639; [phone number]; open seasonally, Wednesday through Sunday.

The Children’s Home is located at 10909 Memorial Highway, Tampa, FL, 33615
[phone number].

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