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Guns for hire: Carousel Ranch raises over $45,000 for kids and adults with special needs

Chris Reed aims his shotgun at the clay disc during Carousel Ranch’s 13th annual “How the West Was Won” charity shooting event at Moore N’ Moore Sporting Clays in Sylmar, Calif., on Friday, April 22, 2022. All proceeds will go to the different equestrian therapy and life skills programs offered at Carousel Ranch. Chris Torres/The Signal
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Carousel Ranch had one of its most successful fundraisers recently, raking in more than $45,000 in its “How the West Was Won” charity shooting event.  

The event was held at Moore N’ Moore Sporting Clays in Sylmar, where a sold-out roster of 23 teams of five competed for trophies, titles and prizes. The competition was both light-hearted and serious, with contestants shooting 12-gauge shotguns at one post, then shooting a 20-gauge atop a fake “rocking horse” used at the ranch as a therapy tool.  

“It’s one of our favorite events that we have at the ranch,” said Taylor Adachi, associate executive director at Carousel Ranch. “It’s very similar to a golf tournament except we’re [using] sporting clays, so it’s a golf-like tournament except…we’re using guns instead.” 

Adachi said the money would be going directly back toward two of the nonprofit’s programs, the Equestrian Therapy program and the Ready to Work program. The Equestrian Therapy program uses regular forms of therapy but mixes in horse-riding lessons, a technique Carousel Ranch says provides physical, social and cognitive benefits.  

“So it’s very similar to what they’re learning in traditional forms of therapy, except we’re just on the back of a horse,” said Adachi. “For us, it’s therapy disguised as fun. There’s a lot of benefits from eque-therapy.” 

The Ready to Work Program gives vocational training to young adults with special needs, who Carousel Ranch says are left in a precarious position around the age of 22 when they age out of the education system and need to enter the workforce. The program is a three-level approach that ranges from a 12-week program — which focuses on “soft skills” such as wearing a uniform, clocking in, and other essential skills — all the way to introducing them to postsecondary education opportunities for adults with special needs through College of the Canyons. 

Although this is one of the first of these events since the pandemic, it is not the first ever. After being postponed for more than a year, the charity event returned in October 2021. Adachi said there was some hesitation in returning the fundraiser so soon after the previous one.  

“So we were a little unsure how teams would feel and they just donated it back in October. Would they want to do it again so soon?” said Adachi. “We were completely blown away by the response.” 

Adachi said the event sold out early and that team sponsorships were also secured quite quickly. At the raffle ticket sale, Adachi said people were being “really generous” and buying “larger amounts of raffle tickets.”  

“It was our most successful event so far,” said Adachi.  

Paul Hughes shoots his shotgun as a shell pops out during Carousel Ranch’s 13th annual “How the West Was Won” charity shooting event at Moore N’ Moore Sporting Clays in Sylmar, Calif., on Friday, April 22, 2022. All proceeds will go to the different equestrian therapy and life skills programs offered at Carousel Ranch. Chris Torres/The Signal
Cindy Garcia loads shells into her shotgun during Carousel Ranch’s 13th annual “How the West Was Won” charity shooting event at Moore N’ Moore Sporting Clays in Sylmar, Calif., on Friday, April 22, 2022. All proceeds will go to the different equestrian therapy and life skills programs offered at Carousel Ranch. Chris Torres/The Signal

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