Golf tourney in honor of Choper to raise funds for K9 program

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry The Second Annual K-9 Memorial Golf Tournament to be held Sunday, July 21, will be sponsored by Ed Shults of Warren. Pictured, with the hole-in-one prize Jeep Renegade are (from left) Shults Owner and General Manager Sean Ellsworth, Shults Salesman and former U.S. Army K-9 handler Scott Ellsworth, tournament committee member Karen Sobkowski, Conewango Township Police Officer Scott Neiswonger, and Conewango Township K-9 Officer Nic.

It’s an event to remember K-9 Choper and to raise money for Warren County’s K-9 units.

The Second Annual K-9 Choper Memorial Golf Tournament sponsored by Ed Shults of Warren had a full slate of 144 golfers in just over two weeks after its announcement.

The tournament will be held Sunday, July 21, at Blueberry Hill Golf Course.

And, while there are no spots left for golfers, there are still sponsorship opportunities.

The event raised over $17,500 for the Conewango Township Police Department K-9 Fund last year.

Photo submitted to Times Observer Conewango Township Police Officer Scott Neiswonger with K-9 Officer Nic (left) and Warren County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Tom Kibbey with K-9 Officer Dina at the Shallow Creek Kennels training facility.

This year, proceeds will be divided, as the Warren County Sheriff’s Office brand new K-9 program – Deputy Tom Kibbey and K-9 Officer Dina are training in Mercer County – will split the funding with Conewango Township Officer Scott Neiswonger and K-9 Nic.

“I’m thankful for the support of the Sheriff, commissioners and local Chiefs of Police.” Tom Kibbey said. “With generous donation from the Warren County Community Foundation we have been able to purchase K9 Dina, handler training and outfitting a K9 vehicle.”

“Having this tournament is about remembering Choper and all his work and to help raise money for Nic and Dina,” Neiswonger said. “We have costs every year. It helps us pay for the insurance, equipment, training, kennels, cages… that we need for the dogs.”

Some costs are already covered. Neiswonger said Russell Veterinary Hospital donates the veterinary care for both dogs. The Purina plant in Dunkirk provides food. Walmart sponsors liability insurance.

“The veterinarians and staff at the Russell Vet have been extremely helpful by providing all of the medical care free of charge and assisting me in preparing a K9 specific first aid kit and providing me with necessary information on providing on-scene care for the K9.” Kibbey said.

Tournament committee member Karen Sobkowski said the event needs more grand sponsors, hole sponsors, hole-in-one prizes, and items and baskets for the basket raffle in order to help the tournament, and the donation to the K-9 funds, grow.

The tournament goes a long way toward providing the things the departments, handlers, and dogs need.

“100 percent of sponsorship money goes to the K-9 funds,” Sobkowski said. Donations are welcome until Saturday, July 20. Donations for the basket raffle will be accepted until the baskets go on display beginning Wednesday, July 17.

Anyone interested in making a donation may contact Sobkowski at (814) 779-8413. The Blueberry pro shop can be reached for information at (814) 757-8620.

Prime Sponsor Ed Shults of Warren has donated $2,500 and is offering up a hole-in-one contest.

“It’s really important for us to give back to the community,” Scott Ellsworth said. “They put so much time and so much work in. It’s a pleasure to be able to participate in this important effort.”

Ellsworth knows what goes into being a K-9 handler and understands the value of K-9 units. He was a military police K-9 handler in the U.S. Army.

“There are things a dog can do that a person can’t,” he said. And, “I have a soft sport in my heart for K-9s.”

“Tom and I want to personally thank the community for their generosity,” Neiswonger said. “It’s humbling and we can’t do it without them.”

“Everybody had a blast last year,” he said. “It’s going to be fun and it’s all for a good cause.”

“The 2nd annual Choper Memorial Golf Tournament will be a huge help in continuing the Warren County Sheriff’s Office K9 program.” Kibbey added. “The proceeds will he used to purchase safety and training equipment for the K9 and handler.

“I am thankful for the assistance given by Officer Neiswonger and allowing us to be a part of the tournament.” he said.