PORTSMOUTH — With only a few months to plan and three weeks to raise funds, Mark and Virgie Hunter kept smiles on their faces as the students and staff within the Portsmouth City School District walked around the track for the annual Steven A. Hunter Power Pack Walk-A-Thon.
With the sun shining and a cool breeze flowing, more than 900 students took to the Portsmouth High School track to participate in the Steven A. Hunter Walk-A-Thon Thursday. Students in all grade levels ran, skipped, and walked around the track to raise awareness of the Power Pack Program and raise funds to help the program continue.
“This is truly one of our favorite events,” Mark Hunter said. “We get to be with the kids and walk with them and they open up and share their stories.”
Due to COVID restrictions last year, the annual event was canceled. This year when organizers got the go-ahead, they knew they had to continue with the event. The Walk-A-Thon, which planning usually starts in October, was put together in a matter of a couple of months, with fundraising starting just three weeks before the event.
“We decided to do it because it’s important to us, the staff and the students,” Organizer Kathy Amburgey said. “We give them (students) an opportunity to give back to their community and a way to honor Steven and what Mark and Virgie do for us.”
Amburgey shared the students have always been willing to participate in the annual event and hosting the event this year brought a sense of normalcy back.
“They love to do it,” Amburgey said. “They look forward to it. When they come over, they are excited and it’s something they look forward to year after year.”
In pre-COVID-19 times, Amburgey explained the event would have sponsors and individuals who donate to the Walk-A-Thon. Due to the uncertainty of the event and delayed planning, students were the only ones raising funds for the Power Pack Program.
“This year, we just had the students fundraise and so far, we are around $3,746 and the money is still coming in,” Amburgey said. “We are really excited. We didn’t expect that much money coming in, but I’ve learned to expect the unexpected among our staff and students.”
Funds raised will go directly to the Power Pack program, which helps feed local children. Each Friday during the school year, students enrolled in Steven’s Power Pack Club receive packs of food, known as Power Packs, to ensure they have something to eat on weekends. Each Power Pack contains more than a dozen food items, which are shelf-stable and kid-friendly.
“I am so thankful to be a part of this,” School counselor Ali Shultz said. “The Hunter’s generosity just means so much to us and our students.”
Shultz shared that the district currently has about 162 students on the Power Pack list and continues to grow. The program is also working on the logistics of distributing the Power Packs through the summer.
“We love it and look forward to it every year,” Mark Hunter said.
“The kids are precious,” Virgie Hunter added.
Reach Adam Black at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1927, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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