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Lones Wigger/Junior Olympic Endowment Nears $500K In Contributions Thanks to Donor & Potterfield Generosity

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (February 23, 2018)

Family, friends and the shooting sports community will gather this Saturday for a memorial service to pay tribute to the sport’s greatest champion, Ret. Army Lt. Col. Lones W. Wigger, who passed away December 14 at the age of 80 after complications from pancreatic cancer.  They will do so knowing that nearly $500,000 has been raised to help create a legacy for the Olympic great that will impact youth shooting programs for years to come. 

Wigger worked with USA Shooting officials to create a Junior Olympic Endowment through the MidwayUSA Foundation in early 2017. With Wigger’s worldwide prestige in the sport, along with an assist from campaign chairman Ernie Vande Zande, more than $200,000 was raised in private donations. 

Through their vision to provide sustainable funding for youth shooting programs, Larry and Brenda Potterfield, owners of MidwayUSA, matched the money earned in the amount of $242,796.99, with a nearly $190,000 commitment received earlier this month. Currently, the Lones Wigger/Junior Olympic Endowment has a balance of $486,846.63 after a $4,424 grant payout received in December that will go into Junior Olympic programs for 2018.   

Moving forward, this endowment benefit to USA Shooting Junior Olympic programs will be distributed as an annual cash grant of 5% from this earmarked endowment. 

“The Lones Wigger Legacy Project is a wonderful and appropriate recognition for a man that accomplished so much in the sport and did so much to help others,” Vande Zande said. “He is the greatest rifle shooter the United States ever produced, without equal and with the generosity of the Potterfields and our shooting community, Wig’s legacy will carry on for generations to come.”  

During his induction to the Olympic Hall of Fame in 2008, Wigger’s daughter and 1983 Pan American Games teammate, Deena, said her father “has paid more back to the sport of shooting than he ever got out of it.” Wigger’s illustrious international shooting career spanned 25 years and saw him winning 111 medals and setting 29 world records, along with winning two Olympic gold medals and one silver.

Wigger’s mark on the sport reaches far beyond his international shooting career. After a distinguished 26-year career in the U.S. Army, Wigger retired in 1987 and went to work for the NRA as the Director of Training for the U.S. Shooting Team until retirement in 1994. Right up until his death, he was active in growing the National Junior Olympic Shooting Program, volunteering and organizing countless shooting matches, serving on the USA Shooting Board for various terms through 2016, even coming to work daily at the USA Shooting headquarters and managing the USA Shooting Alumni program.

In honor of his achievements and in celebration of his 80th birthday on August 25, USA Shooting renamed the interior of its headquarters and upper range the Lones Wigger Legacy Hall and Range. 

“Everyone here knows what it takes to be a champion or a success in life,” Wigger told the more than 300 attendees at that dedication ceremony. During the 30 minutes he spoke, he honored his family, teammates, friends and coaches for 25 of them. He only credited himself with his drive to train hard. “There are no secrets. It takes hours and hours of hard work, commitment, dedication, sacrifice and desire. Maybe desire is the most important. Everyone can be a winner. It just depends on how bad you want it. Never forget to dream. Dreams can and do come true.”

Wigger became the only athlete to win medals in all three Olympic rifle shooting disciplines and was selected as one of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s 100 Golden Olympians in 1996.

Wigger is survived by his wife of 59 years, Mary Kay, his two sons Ron and Danny, daughter Deena, son-in-law Tom, as well as three grandchildren. 

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to the Lones Wigger/USAS Jr. Olympic Endowment.

View pictures from the Lones Wigger Legacy Hall & Range Dedication

Listen to Lones Wigger’s last public speech given on his 80th Birthday

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National Shooting Sports Foundation