By Rachel Emily Auton
March 21, 2014. Construction on the fallen law enforcement official memorial at the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office is not the only recent celebration of those who have given their lives to protect our community. Hunter’s Heroes, a nonprofit formed in memory of local Deputy William Mast Jr. after his death in the line of duty in 2012, is gearing up for their second annual charity run with a series of fundraisers and community events.
“Hunter’s Heroes was started to help remember the lives that have been lost in the line of duty and any public service or military duty,” said Emily Greer, president of Hunter’s Heroes.
“We not only want to help the families of the fallen, but also assist their children’s educations financially.”
Carol Cook, a member of the Hunter’s Heroes advisory board, came up with the idea to start a memorial run in memory of Deputy Mast to benefit his family. Mast’s son, William Hunter Mast, was born 17 days after his death.
Last year marked the inaugural event, featuring a spaghetti dinner the night before both a 5K and 10 mile run, with a community wide celebratory picnic afterwards.
The event garnered more than $25,000 in scholarship funds for Mast’s son and Lilly Grace Townsend, the sister of Peyton Townsend who died after being struck by a falling tombstone while participating in a vacation Bible school program in Deep Gap, said Greer. Townsend’s father is a state trooper.
“Our first year was great, we hope to grow larger” said Greer. “We want other cities to know who we are and what we stand for.”
This year, proceeds from the run will be dedicated to the son of Major Ryan Scott David, who died fighting fires with the N.C. Air National Guard last year. An undecided percentage of the proceeds will be dedicated to Mast’s son, a tradition that will continue until Hunter graduates college, said Greer.
Proceeds from the spaghetti dinner will go towards the medical expenses of Katie Watson, a local girl diagnosed with epilepsy.
“We split all the money we earn directly in half, with half going to the recipients and half to the memorial run,” said Greer.
Hunter’s Heroes relies entirely on sponsorships, donations and proceeds from their annual run.
“We basically work the entire year with different fundraisers and events throughout the town to raise funds and get sponsorships and donors from local businesses and people throughout the town,” said Greer.
Fundraising efforts this year will begin with a benefit evening at The Rock Sports Bar & Grill on March 25, from 4 p.m. to midnight.
“We will receive 10 percent of all proceeds- food, drinks, anything,” said Greer.
There will be live music throughout the night, with performances by Kinsey Green and the Bluegrass Mafia, Adam Church, Luke Combs and others including Appalachian State female acapella group EarCandy.
“We will also be selling merchandise from last year and this year,” said Greer.
“Last year’s merchandise will be half off and this year’s will be kind of a sneak peek.”
This year’s pasta dinner is set for June 6, with the run event beginning at 8:30 am the next morning.