Charlie Daniels may play a mean fiddle, but how is he with a shotgun?
The Grand Ole Opry legend is making his annual trip back to the Tampa Bay area, once again to raise money for The Angelus — a group home in Hudson. But this time, his fundraising tour is going to include Land O’ Lakes.
The Charlie Daniels Sporting Clay Shootout is scheduled for Dec. 7 at Tampa Bay Sporting Clays, 10514 Ehren Cutoff. It will not only include Daniels, but some of his other celebrity friends like the stars of Discovery’s “The Deadliest Catch,” as well as R.J. Molinere Jr., and Jay Paul Molinere from “Swamp People” on History.
And a former Tampa Bay Buccaneer player or two could show up as well.
“It’s just going to be a lot of fun,” said Tammy Williams, who has helped organize events like this for The Angelus for more years than she cares to share. “All of this is for an amazing cause, as we can use every dollar we raise this weekend.”
The residential facility set on 17 wooded acres in Pasco County was designed for the severely handicapped — all 32 of its residents are wheelchair-bound. It has five group homes, a day program, a wood shop, a pool, miniature horses, and even a rustic log cabin known as “Charlie’s Lodge” after Daniels himself.
“Everyone has a different story,” Williams said. “We have quite a few whose parents are just too old to take care of them anymore, and others who just need specialized care they couldn’t get anywhere else.”
The facility has operated on some government subsidies, but that has dwindled over the years to where private donations are more crucial than ever. And while the number of residents might seem low, it takes up to 80 employees to keep The Angelus functioning, providing much-needed around-the-clock care.
“While the state is cutting your money, they are continually raising their standards on what you have to do as a facility,” Williams said. “We have no problem giving our residents the best care, but all of it costs money.”
Daniels, who is probably best known for his songs like “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” first learned about The Angelus 23 years ago. He was asked to help raise a little bit of money for the facility, and he just never stopped.
Skip Schaer had the same problem. He owns Schaer Development of Central Florida Inc., a site development company located on Hunt Road, just off State Road 54 in Land O’ Lakes. It started with his son volunteering for the organization more than 16 years ago, and the next thing he knew, Schaer himself had become involved — working his way right up into the organization’s board of directors.
While it was always nice to know Daniels would make the trip to Florida to help The Angelus each year, it wasn’t until Schaer saw him in action during a Sunday service on one of his visits that he truly understood the singer’s devotion to the organization.
“He brought some of the celebrities with him, and everyone was waiting for him at Charlie’s Lodge,” Schaer said. “He walked in the door, and without saying a word to anybody, he went to each one of the kids to speak with them. They would take his face into their hands, and he would just continue, one after another, talking with every single one of them.”
Charlie’s Lodge was built in 1999 with the help of more than 600 volunteers, and has been a quiet refuge for residents and employees alike at The Angelus.
Although the Charlie Daniels event originated in Pasco County, in recent years it has moved south to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa. That’s where Daniels and others will perform Saturday night.
But with The Angelus and the weekend fundraiser roots in Pasco, Schaer looked for an opportunity to bring it back. And shooting clays in Land O’ Lakes seemed like the perfect opportunity.
“We are hoping that we have a lot of local folks who will come out and support us here in their own backyard,” Schaer said. “Charlie and everyone else will be there, and they are all very hands-on. They never have a problem posing for pictures or signing autographs.”
But shooting slots are already filling up, even at $150 for an individual or $600 for a four-person team.
For more information on the shootout or any of the other events planned around Daniels’ visit, go to TheAngelus.com, or call Tammy Williams at (727) 243-8293.