On a beautiful October day, hundreds of sponsors, donors, and volunteers gathered at Providence Hill Farm for the Inaugural Sporting Clay Competition fundraiser benefiting Friends of Mississippi Veterans. Mississippi Veterans Affairs and Mid South Rehab Services, Inc. partnered to create a lasting event that would raise funds for the Mississippi veterans in our four VA homes.
For months, Mid South's senior recruiter, Shelly Aaron, compiled teams, collected registrations, and gathered raffle items for the event. I assisted her whenever I could, whether that meant asking for door prize donations or reaching out to potential sponsors. Mr. Cole donated his time each day, reaching out to friends and business owners who might be interested in participating in the event. Together, we met with the staff at Mississippi Veterans Affairs to finalize everything from marketing materials to day-of operations.
We arrived at Providence Hill on the day of the fundraiser before the sun did, eager to get inside the beautiful clubhouse to set up our signs, table decorations, and more. The air was humid, but as the morning wore on, the sun came out and a beautiful breeze lifted off the lake. As participants arrived, Mid South volunteers Ashlie Lovins, Amy Nichols, Amy Klaas, and Kayla McInnis along with myself helped guests check in, find their teammates, and grab donuts and drinks from Dunkin' Donuts and Southern Beverage Co.
Before our first flight, Governor Phil Bryant addressed the group on the beautiful deck overlooking the lake. His support of the event and our veterans was the perfect start, and just like that, they were off! We were exceptionally thankful for the Mississippi National Guard for their volunteering to be station sponsors for both flights of the event.
When the first flight of teams began trickling back into the clubhouse, they were greeted with a delicious lunch spread prepared by Mama Hamil's. Guests enjoyed chicken with all the fixings. During the lunch hour, the second flight of shooter began to arrive and register as well.
During lunch, we were excited to auction our featured item, a Remington Enfield Rifle, donated by Tommy Kennedy. Mr. John White of Two Gun Tactical won the auction, taking home his prize for $1,700. During this time, we also gave away a round of door prizes, some of which included gift certificates, men's apparel, hunting supplies, coolers, knives, guns and gun cases and much more. Our list of door prize sponsors was lengthy, and we were so excited to reward the generous people who gave to our Mississippi veterans. We were thrilled to feature Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, Congressman Michael Guest, Congressman Steven Palazzo, and Commissioner of Agriculture, Andy Gipson as guest speakers and participants in the fundraiser. We all enjoyed an entertaining surprise when Major General Janson Durr Boyles arrived for the afternoon flight in a Black Hawk helicopter.
By the end of the door prizes, the results were tallied for the first flight of shooters. Our second flight of shooters took off at 1 p.m. It was a beautiful afternoon, and the volunteers quickly cleaned up the lunch time mess and prepared for the final rewards ceremony. As the first few teams arrived back to the clubhouse, participants grabbed fresh, cool drinks and enjoyed a seat on the deck, while others put in a few more bids on the silent auction items.
Overall, this day was a special one for our veterans, participants, and volunteers. Mid South is so thankful for the opportunity to serve in this capacity - from designing the marketing materials for the event to decorations and door prizes and so much more. Mid South would like to thank everyone who donated time, finances, merchandise, and supplies to this fundraiser. It was so much fun and so rewarding to give back to those who have given so much to us. For more information on this event, or to learn more about participation in the future, please contact Shelly Aaron at our ESC headquarters (601) 605-6777.