Hunter's Heroes raises $20,000+
by Kellen Short
The June 8 event, which honored the memory of fallen Watauga County Sheriff's Deputy William Mast Jr., raised more than $20,000 -- with more donations still coming in, said race organizer Emily Grace Greer.
More than 300 people participated in the 10-mile and 5K races, and more than 500 attended a community pasta dinner June 7 in memory of 4-year-old Peyton Townsend, who was killed in a tragic accident June 8, 2012.
"We were really surprised by the amount of people that actually showed up at both events," Greer said. "We were planning for that many, but we weren't really expecting it."
Greer and a team of others began organizing the event in October 2012 after the unexpected death of Mast, who was shot and killed responding to a call on July 26, 2012. He left behind a wife, Paige Mast, and unborn son, William Hunter Mast.
Participants in the 10-mile race began at the Watauga County Sheriff's Office and passed by the Boone Police Department before completing the route to the Blowing Rock Police Department.
The event concluded with a celebration in Blowing Rock's Memorial Park, complete with barbecue, jump houses, kids' games, music and a clogging performance.
The weekend was full of touching moments, Greer said, including the release of 500 pink balloons in Townsend's memory.
She said the events went a long way in showing support for two local families.
"(Paige) and Hunter were super thankful for the community, and I know the Townsend family was, too," Greer said.
Proceeds from the event will go toward college funds for Hunter Mast and Lilly Grace Townsend, the sister of Peyton Townsend, Greer said.
With one race completed, the team is already thinking ahead to next year.
Hunter's Heroes intends to hold the 2014 race in memory of Maj. Ryan Scott David of Boone, who was 35 when he was killed in a plane crash while fighting wildfires with the N.C. National Guard in South Dakota in 2012. He left behind a wife and young son.
The pasta dinner also will return to support a local family who has not yet been selected, Greer said.
"We just hope that everyone will continue to come out each year no matter who it supports," Greer said.