Spirits were soaring higher than clay pigeons Thursday morning as Nipsco hosted their annual Charity Clay Shoot event at Back Forty Sporting Clays in Bourbon. Each year, funds raised from the event go to a charity of the company’s choice, and this year community members from all over came out in support of Meals on Wheels and local senior citizens.
Steve Sylvester and Mark Combs, Nipsco Vice President-General Manager and Senior Operations Support Specialist respectively, each expressed their excitement about the day’s purpose and activities.
“We have a lot of employee engagement today as well as a lot of great sponsors who help with putting this on,” Sylvester said. “Every year our employees pick a different organization to support through today’s event, and it’s great to be able to give back to the communities we serve this way.”
“This is just a way that we can get out and help our senior citizens,” Combs added. “We started this event four years ago in 2015, and it’s continued to grow ever since.”
A record number of over 100 shooters participated this year, raising over $20,000 for the cause. Several teams came together to compete for the win, but it was clear everyone was there for the greater good regardless of the final standings.
“My team and I won last year,” said attendee Nathan Burke. “We’re hoping to pull off the win again, but ultimately today is about supporting Meals on Wheels.”
Craig Stanbish, who runs one of Nipsco’s vendor companies out of Rensselaer, has returned to the fundraiser year after year.
“We’ve supported this for the last two years and want to continue to do so as long as we can,” Stanbish said. “It’s a good event, and the charitable donation always goes to a deserving fund.”
The action started bright and early with the first shots ringing out at 8:30am. Though the sky was overcast and threatened to bring rain, that didn’t stop participants from bringing their A game.
Ed Little, Culver Resident and faculty member at Culver Academy, has been shooting at Back Forty for over 20 years, and is a seasoned veteran of the sport. He knew the course well and passed down his knowledge and experience to his team members.
“I got one of my former students into shooting at Culver,” Little said. “She and her dad come out and shoot with us all the time, and they’re the reason I’m out here today!”
Dirk Dodson, Lineman at Nipsco, said the benefits of the event are two-fold, and go beyond simply giving money to charity.
“Today is great because it not only gives back to the community, but it brings Nipsco’s workers together,” Dodson said. “We work together all the time, but we don’t always get to have fun together, so this is a great chance for us to do that and support a great cause at the same time.”
“It’s so much fun out here,” Dodson continued. “A lot of times we’ll get people who have never done this before, and everybody just has a great time trying out something new.”
After an intense couple of hours shooting at 15 different stops on the course, the competition came to an end, and attendees moved back to the front pavilion for lunch, an awards presentation, and raffle drawings. The skill level among all participants was great, but it was Team Orbital, comprised of Jeff Buchko, Brent Harting, Matt Misch, and Chas Misch, that came out on top.
“We didn’t really expect to win today,” Harting said. “We haven’t shot together in years! It was nice though, and we had a great time.”
“Coming in first was definitely surprising,” Misch added. “We just had fun shooting together and plan on coming back again next year!”
Nipsco’s Annual Charity Clay Shoot proved to be a fun-filled success for yet another year, and will no doubt continue to grow in participation and donations in years to come. To learn more about how Nipsco gives back to it’s local communities, visit https://www.nipsco.com/our-company/about-us/giving-back.