(Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) — Helping to fund tuition assistance for students in need, the recent third annual St. Thomas Aquinas High School Sporting Clays Tournament at Quail Creek Plantation, Okeechobee, drew sportsmen from as far away as New York and Montana, and raised $44,000.

“With its beautiful natural setting, fun and fellowship, the tournament has quickly become a tradition in support of bringing Catholic education within reach for more families in our community,” said John Ray, president of Sonitrol of Fort Lauderdale and chairman of this year’s tournament. The St. Thomas Aquinas High School Sporting Clays Tournament Committee organized the event.

From left, Mike Styles, Monsignor Vincent Kelly, John Ray, Jody Moore.

From left, Mike Styles, Monsignor Vincent Kelly, John Ray, Jody Moore.

Founded by avid outdoorsman Jody Moore, a St. Thomas Aquinas High School Foundation board member, and owner of MSI Consulting, the tournament reflects the growing popularity of sporting clays fundraising events throughout the Southeastern U.S.

More than 100 participated in this year’s tournament at the scenic, upscale Quail Creek Plantation. A gourmet barbecue at the luxurious main lodge began the gathering, complete with socializing around a cozy bonfire. The next day, competitors moved through a circuit of 14 shooting stations laid out over scenic natural cypress swamp and upland terrain, firing at clay targets launched at varying trajectories, speeds, elevations and distances.

“Nearly everyone has returned year after year for the Sporting Clays Tournament, coming from throughout Florida and beyond,” said Moore. “It’s become a unique annual highlight for many who want to spend the weekend enjoying Quail Creek Plantation’s first-class, Old Florida accommodations and socializing with friends, family and business associates – all to raise funds for a great cause.”

Proceeds of the tournament benefit the St. Thomas Aquinas High School Foundation, and are earmarked for providing tuition assistance to students and families who otherwise could not afford a Catholic education. According to Michael Styles, chair of the St. Thomas Aquinas High School Foundation Committee, the annual tournament has made it possible to assist dozens of students from throughout Broward County.

Key sponsors for this year’s tournament included BNY Mellon Wealth Management, Brand Lab and Second Defense Alliance. Additional sponsors were Centuric, Crush Law, Keefe McCullough, ManKind, MSI Consulting, Pro Sporting Goods, Rio Vista McDonald’s, Sonitrol, Sperry Van Ness Commercial Realty and Michael J. Styles, P.A.

Ray, a St. Thomas Aquinas High School parent and alumnus, noted that the volunteer Sporting Clays Tournament Committee is already planning for its fourth annual competition, set for January 24, 2014. For more information, visit http://staclays.tumblr.com.

Founded in 1936, St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale is a four-year, college-preparatory secondary school that educates young men and women in the Catholic tradition. St. Thomas Aquinas has been listed as one of the Top 50 Catholic high schools in the United States for five years; St. Thomas Aquinas High School reports that virtually 100 percent of its graduating class members attend college. For information please visit http://www.aquinas-sta.org.