Hall of Fame donates $25,000 to CPOW through fundraising Clay Shoot in Pennsylvania

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Gary Abbott (USA Wrestling)

Wrestling champions Cael Sanderson, Jake Varner and Quentin Wright join Hall of Fame leaders to present a check for $25,000 for the Keep Olympic Wrestling effort.

The National Wrestling Hall of Fame was seeking a creative new way to raise funds for the sport. The concept of a clay shoot was developed, as a unique kind of fun group activity which was different than a golf event. A pilot program has been put into place to test out this new concept.

The first of these fundraising Clay Shoots was held at Central Penn Sporting Clays in Wellsville, Pa. on Saturday, August 17, organized locally by the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. The event was an overwhelming success, and $25,000 from the proceeds was donated to the Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling (CPOW) for its Keep Olympic Wrestling movement.

“Our state chapter took the lead in Pennsylvania, with Mike Clair and Ann Ritter-Peery involved. It really took legs when Stan Zeamer and John C. Thomas became part of the leadership team. They got corporate sponsors and major donors involved, and it was a tremendous success,” said Lee Roy Smith, Executive Director of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

The concept was very simple. There were 16 stations set up, where shooters could take six shots at each location. The clays were launched at different angles and in a different environment at each station. Participants were split up into teams, with awards given to the top three teams and the best shooter among the men and women. A person could bring their own gun, or one would be provided for them. There was an all-inclusive price for the day of shooting and social activities.

Stan Zeamer saw the potential of these Clay Shoots for fundraising. He has been a leader on the Board of Governors of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and very active in the Pennsylvania chapter. Zeamer also served as the Team Leader for the U.S. Olympic Women’s Wrestling Team, and is very active with USA Wrestling. Zeamer saw an opportunity where the Hall of Fame could make a difference in the quest to retain wrestling as an Olympic sport.

Zeamer said the event was initially targeted to raise funds for wrestling on the local level, as well as for a national non-profit charity. But it really took off when the decision was made to donate funds for the Keep Olympic Wrestling effort.

“The idea was to support wrestling, raise money and have fun. With my involvement with the Hall of Fame, USA Wrestling and CPOW, I saw this as an opportunity for a grassroots effort to get involved and help Save Olympic Wrestling. It was a great day for the sport of wrestling and it impacted the world. We hope that the IOC vote on September 8 will be positive, so we can celebrate everybody’s efforts,” said Zeamer.

The Hall of Fame was very excited about a chance to help the Keep Olympic Wrestling effort in the final days before the vote.

“With Stan Zeamer leading the major gift charge, he recommended the idea about helping Save Olympic Wrestling. He believed we could generate some significant funds. At this time in history and the situation we are in as a sport, we agreed that we should share the proceeds with this major cause for wrestling. It doesn’t get any more major than this for the sport of wrestling. This is part of the duty and obligation of the Hall of Fame. We are here to preserve history. We want the Olympics to remain as part of wrestling’s history,” said Smith.

Zeamer saw considerable support and interest for the project with its focus on saving Olympic wrestling, especially within the corporate community. A range of corporate giving levels were developed.

“The support was awesome. I didn’t get any no’s. People were enthused to help the fundraiser, especially for Olympic wrestling. They wanted to be part of it. I think they felt real good about being involved. I felt a real enthusiasm for helping Olympic wrestling,” said Zeamer.

Among the wrestling celebrities who took part in the fundraiser were Olympic champion and Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson, Olympic champion Jake Varner and two-time NCAA champion Quentin Wright. 

“I think that was an added bonus for our sponsors and the people there. They benefitted by being with our wrestling greats and personalities like Cael, Jake and Quentin. These guys are at the top of the ladder. All three are very personable, down to earth and quiet spirited. They presented themselves very well, not only for Penn State, but for the world wrestling stage and the local wrestling community,” said Zeamer.

Both Smith and Zeamer gave special recognition for the work of wrestling supporter John C. Thomas, a board member of the Pennsylvania chapter who went to Franklin & Marshall and has been successful in both law and finance. His leadership and enthusiasm was a key to the success of the event.

The Hall of Fame is very excited that the Clay Shoot in Pennsylvania was a success, not only because it will help the Keep Olympic Wrestling effort, but also that it should be a great fundraising option for the sport moving forward.

Lee Roy Smith was able to witness both experienced and novice shooters having fun at the event.

“Jake Varner had never shot, but he hit five of six clays at one station. Anybody can do this. Both experienced hunters and shooters as well as the inexperienced can enjoy it. Having fun was the theme, but you know the wrestlers also got competitive. It is a different kind of group activity, in a very friendly environment. In the future, we will work to get more youth to come out, because it is very healthy and enjoyable,” said Smith.