NEBO, Ill. -- The occasional shower didn't keep 29 teams at Harpole's Heartland Lodge from competing in the Sporting Clays for Scouting fundraiser.
Dick Saalborn said the rain didn't bother him at all as he walked off the course Wednesday afternoon, but he joked that if he missed a clay pigeon, it was the rain's fault. A regular at the event, Saalborn enjoys his time each year on the course.
"I think you meet a lot of new friends," he said. "I also think it's for a very good cause."
Sporting Clays for Scouting, in its 20th year, is a major fundraiser for the Mississippi Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Sponsored each year by the Oakley-Lindsay Foundation, it has raised more than $400,000 for local Scouts in 13 counties.
J. David Gilbert, development director for the council, said, "There's a lot of things that we provide behind the scenes that people don't necessarily see. So membership recruitment resources, leader training materials, helping make sure camp stays affordable, and then for those who need additional assistance, we provide camperships, which is our version of financial aid for camp attendance, uniforms, books, as well as registration assistance."
The featured speaker was former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Kyle McClellan, who described his journey as a St. Louis native who was able to play for his favorite team.
"For me going through the process where it actually came down to the Cardinals being a legit option was pretty surreal," McClellan said. "There are 29 other teams that can take you, and still the chances aren't really good as you go through the minor leagues.
"When I found out I made the team, it was hard to believe that I was going to be coming back to Busch Stadium and be a part of opening day that I had seen so many times as a fan."
Now retired from Major League Baseball, McClellan focuses on Brace for Impact 46, a charity that he and his wife, Bridget, founded. The charity has built schools and a medical center in Haiti, and has an impact on 40,000 people each day. The charity also launched a St. Louis initiative buying and renovating homes in northern St. Louis to provide safe and stable housing.
"It's our passion, and it's what I enjoy to do," he said. "I tell people all the time, it's what keeps me up at night, and it's what wakes me up in the middle of the night, and it's what gets me up in the morning."
Fred Cory, chairman of the committee that plans the fundraiser, said the event remains a success because of the devotion of the council staff and volunteers.
"People enjoy it," Cory said. "It's an alternative to a golf outing, and we've had fun doing it."
Kent Williams, owner of Williams Shooter Supply, said it's an easy decision to support the event and scouting each year.
"As one of the former presidents of Winchester used to say, ‘If we can do something that's involved with our product, we want to do it,'" Williams said. "Scouts is a great program, and I was a Scout and my son was a Scout. This has been a very enjoyable way to raise money."