The Steven A Hunter Hope Fund’s Annual Tennis and Pickleball Tournament was held Sept 10 with great numbers, showing how much people care about continuing the Hunter legacy of feeding local children.
Food insecurity impacted 10.5 percent of the country in 2021 and Freestore Foodbank estimates that number is around 24 percent for Scioto County, but, luckily, the Steven A Hunter Hope Fund is constantly taking steps to alleviate that problem across southern Ohio.
The tennis tournament is the single self-run fundraiser to contribute to its massive $180,000 annual budget and it is in its 16th year.
The fund started after the loss of local Steven Hunter, son of Mark and Virgie Hunter, who was a figure of the community at an early age, known for frequently putting service before self. His father, Mark, once explained his desire to provide service through the Hope Fund by saying, “Most children spend their lives trying to fill their parents’ shoes. I will spend mine trying to fill his.”
Through the Hope Fund, the group spends nearly $200,000 feeding 1,300 children in 19 schools through weekend backpack meals, funding seven in-school pantries, providing clothing services in three schools, and maintaining a special fund for PHS as needed, such as eyeglasses.
According to co-founder Mark Hunter, the event was the biggest yet and brought in over $35,000, which will provide over 47,000 meals. 30 tennis teams participated and nine pickleball teams joined in.
While the pandemic produced funding for food pantries and providers, Mark explained that those funding sources have since dried up and the need is high.
“The pandemic money is gone and now the reverse is happening with inflation hitting food prices. We are seeing food pantry attendance rising and the cost is skyrocketing,” Mark explained.
The fundraising tournament was organized by chairman Jay Daehler, who was a friend of Steven. The tournament was founded by his father, Jim Daehler, who Mark says considered Steven family.
“Jim started the tennis tournament as a way to honor Steven and keep his memory alive, all while raising awareness for tennis and providing an outlet for that,” Hunter explained. “So, this was Jim’s idea in 2007, because he knew how much Steven loved tennis.”
Hunter is honored to watch the tournament continue with son Jay Daehler.
“We are just so grateful to the whole Daehler Family. Now, to have Jay, who was one of Steven’s closest friends, taking the lead, it is just so incredible,” Hunter said. “He has just done an incredible job of keeping it going, building it, and bringing new ideas, such as Pickleball.
Pickleball is a new element to the fundraiser. Hunter previously explained that the addition of pickleball was due to aging tennis players making the conversion and Hunter wanting to stay relevant to all players.
“It went very, very well for a first-year addition,” Hunter said. “We had nine teams, and we hope to only grow that.”
The tournament was organized by novice and intermediate flights, with women’s, men’s and mixed doubles.
The winners of the tennis event included Men’s Novice, Matt and Caleb Miller as Champions and Tate Johnson and Gavin Akers as Runners-Up; Men’s Intermediate, Champions Chad and Connor Radune, and Darren Litz and Aaron Franke as Runners-Up; Men’s Seniors, Brian Missier and Jonathan Lucas as Runners-Up; Women’s Novice, Christie Johnson and Kyra Kasee as Champions and Leila Wheeler and Karleigh Sherman as Runners-Up; Women’s Intermediate, Champions Shelly Litz and Marcella Aparacio and Runners-Up Addy Akers and Miranda Johnson; Mixed Intermediate, Champions, Don Moritz and Carolyn Hewitt, and Runners-Up Brad Liddle and McKynna Jarvis.
The winners of the Pickleball were Mixed Intermediate, Champions Amy Hassel and Randy Day, and Runners-Up Jamie Schmidt and Chris Day
“It was a fantastic year overall, with more money being raised than ever before, which is saying something, because tennis interest isn’t what it used to be,” Hunter claimed.
For more information about the Hope Fund, or to make a contribution towards feeding a child, visit their website www.stevenshopefund.org.
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved