Navy SEAL Sniper special guest at Clay Shoot for Veterans
Gulf Power’s fourth annual event provides funds for agencies that support veterans and their families.
Gulf Power’s Clay Shoot for America’s Heroes is all about supporting veterans and their families.
With more than $90,000 in proceeds from this year’s Nov. 3 Clay Shoot, Gulf Power is bolstering the budgets of three charities aimed at providing aid and support to veterans and their families.
These three organizations will share the proceeds.
This year’s special Clay Shoot guest was former Navy SEAL sniper, breacher, combat medic and local author, Kevin Lacz, who was a technical adviser and played himself in the 2014 Oscar nominated film “American Sniper.” He underscored why the efforts of these nonprofits are so important.
“During my time in the Navy, I learned about bonds and family,” he said speaking to a crowd of roughly 200 at Santa Rosa Shooting Center. “And when we go overseas and do the job we do, we leave behind our families. But we can’t do what we do without their support. Family makes the veteran strong. When you see charities in the community that strengthen that bond, we see a stronger community.”
After serving two tours of duty in Iraq, in 2006 and 2008, and completing his enlistment, Lacz returned to college and now works as a physician’s assistant in Pensacola. His military service served as impetus to also work on behalf of veterans’ causes.
“My roots in the Navy stay with me today,” he said to a crowd of veterans and supporters of veterans. “When we look forward to the future, let’s hold onto those roots and keep doing what we’re doing, helping vets.”
No one could be more passionate about supporting veterans than Stan Connally, Gulf Power’s Chairman, President and CEO, who with the help of Sandy Sims, Eastern District general manager, launched the Clay Shoot four years ago as a vehicle to funnel donations to veteran-focused nonprofits.
Forty teams, the largest yet, turned out for this year’s event.
“Last year, we raised $90,000 and every penny went back to local veterans’ organizations that serve our communities,” Connally said. “I can assure you every penny we raised this year will go back into these three organizations. Gulf Power is proud to be a leading employer and supporter of veterans in our region. We are honored to have more than 100 veterans on our team.”
When Gulf Power contacted Scott Delveau, the Bob Hope Village director of development, about being one of the benefactors of the Clay Shoot, he was thrilled but had never heard of the event.
“When I did some research and realized how big this event is, I was floored,” he said. “We’re really excited to be a part of this. And this is going to help us rebuild our community center at the Village.”
The Village is a nonprofit organization founded in 1967 and is now home to 527 residents, predominantly widows of retired enlisted U.S. Airmen, although there are residents representing all four military branches, Delveau explained.
Now that the Village is benefiting from the Clay Shoot, Delveau said they look forward to helping out in the future.
“Next year, our commanding officer will build a team from the local military leaders and come and participate,” he said. “This event is helping veterans, and we’re happy to be a part of it.”
Joe Garner, with the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association who volunteers with the Veterans Memorial Foundation, said Gulf Power’s donation will go a long way in assisting disabled veterans.
“This will help keep that program alive,” he said. “There’s a big need in Santa Rosa County for providing transportation to pick up veterans and take them to the VA clinic or to pick up prescriptions. Some of these guys are disabled and immobile, they can’t drive.”
To be sure, donating to a worthy cause and honoring veterans were at the heart of why many of the nearly 200 team members participated in the Clay Shoot.
Jason Lee, vice president of transmission construction and business development of Hattiesburg, Mississippi-based Chain Electric, participated for the first time this year.
“With this being a fundraiser for veterans, it struck a chord with us at Chain Electric,” he said. “My family is full of veterans. The whole experience of being able to interact with the veterans and employees of Gulf Power was pretty amazing. We’ll be back participating next year.”
Gulf Power is an investor-owned electric utility with all of its common stock owned by Atlanta-based Southern Company. Gulf Power serves more than 450,000 customers in eight counties throughout Northwest Florida. The company’s mission is to safely provide exceptional customer value by delivering reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible electricity while strengthening our communities. Visit online at MyGulfPower.com or on the company’s Facebook page. News information can be found at GulfPowerNews.com.
News Media Contacts: