Hope Fund raises nearly $40,000 in Tennis Tournament


The Steven A Hunter Hope Fund continued its biggest annual fundraiser, the Steven A Hunter Hope Fund Tennis and Pickleball Tournament, last week with the biggest out turn of support to date in its 17 years of operation.

The fundraiser brought in nearly $37,000 this year, which will provide 49,333 meals.

The Steven A Hunter Hope Fund is a nonprofit that serves southern Ohio, primarily Scioto County, in 20 schools, by providing weekend “power pack” take-home meals each weekend, as well as eight food pantries housed in various school locations. To date, the organization has given out more than 2 million meals.

1,425 kids will be fed this year through the program.

“Virgie and I are elated. Of course, we give the glory to god. He has blessed us for so many years with a mission that is our passion,” co-founder Mark Hunter said. “We know Steven would be so happy. He cared so much about helping people who didn’t have the things he was able to have. Through the Hope Fund, we are able to continue what he would have done if he would be with us today.”

Many of those people helping are individuals who knew the late Steven Hunter, Mark and Virgie’s son.

“We can’t say enough about the Daehlers. The tournament was their idea all those years ago. From the standpoint of us trying to feed children, they’re passionate,” Hunter said. “Now Jay has taken over chairmanship, who was Steven’s friend. In fact, we have a few of Steven’s friends involved, like Dr. Taylor Babcock who ran the pickleball tournaments. We also had Stewart Davis and Tim Stewart, along with his wife, Emma, who were very helpful. It feels wonderful to have Steven’s friends to join us in the effort.”

Hunter, as always, was concerned that he would never be able to thank every single person who donated time and money to the success of the event. He explained that he is always so overwhelmed by the turnout of people to help.

“I can never thank people enough,” Hunter said.

Hunter explained that the cost to feed the kids in his program continuously grows, even if their greatest partner, Freestore Foodbank, is a great resource for their abilities to feed more and more individuals. The number of kids continues to grow, however, which raises their budget.

“The cost of food is just going out of sight. We are blessed that the Freestore continues to charge us $2 per powerpack,” Hunter explained. “I don’t know how long they can do that, because they put over $5.50 in each, which is from buying in large bulk.”

To date, the tournaments have had 17 sessions that have raised over $318,000, which has funded 424,000 meals. The tournament, this year, welcomed 39 teams and will provide over 49,333 meals.

The winners included men’s tennis victors Keenan Lambert and Mlu Mhlanga, as well as runners-up Kory Sparks and Pickle Carter; women’s tennis victors Addi Lute and Kailey Shaffer, as well as runners-up Marissa Justice and Miranda Johnson; and pickleball mixed doubles victors Randy Smith and Jamie Schmidt, as well as runners-up Amy Hassel and Zayden Rinehart.

“The resurgence of the players are starting to creep back up, maybe because of COVID, but also because we are also bringing in the PHS girls tennis players, as well as the pickleball players, which is important, because it is the largest moneymaking event the fund has each year,” Chairman Jay Daehler explained. “We had a great day this year and we have a big thank you to the sponsors of the event, because, without them, we wouldn’t be out there.”

Daehler said his decision to help with the event is easy, whether it is because of his friend, Steven, the kids who benefit from the funding, or even Mark and Virgie themselves.

“I always tell everyone that Mark and Virgie Hunter, what they’re doing for kids in our community, there isn’t a church, politician, or public servant that comes close to what they are doing and more people need to know that. Mark is expanding and reaching into Adams County and other places. Two million meals; that’s a huge number.”

Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

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