UCA alumni plan benefit golf tournament

By Tammy Keith Published October 16, 2016 at 12:00 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Mark Buffalo

Greg Hunt of Conway, who died of cancer in November 2015, is pictured in July 2015 with his family — his wife, Kendra, and their children, Caleb and Hannah — at the Shorts, Sundresses and Sunhats event in his hometown of Lonoke. The silent auction was part of Greg’s campaign, #GHGoFightWin, to bring awareness to colon cancer, which is where his illness started. A golf tournament is scheduled for Friday in conjunction with the University of Central Arkansas’ homecoming to raise money for the Gregory E. Hunt Scholarship.

Greg Hunt, a Conway real estate broker, died of cancer in November at age 38, but he left a legacy — one that is growing with help from the University of Central Arkansas Alumni Association.

A Lonoke native and UCA graduate, Hunt would have been 39 on Oct. 7. He had colon cancer that spread to his lungs, liver and, finally, his brain.

The University of Central Arkansas Alumni Association is working to help endow a scholarship in his memory. On Friday, the Black Alumni Chapter will hold the Greg Hunt Memorial Golf Tournament, in conjunction with homecoming, as a fundraiser for the scholarship. Hunt was on the UCA Alumni Association board and was a charter member of the Black Alumni Chapter.

The tournament will start at 8:30 a.m. Friday at Nutters Chapel Golf & Country Club, 1705 S. Salem Road in Conway. The two-person scramble costs $65 per person, and the first 36 individuals will receive goody bags. Competitions include a hole in one and the longest drive, and awards will be given.

A reception will follow at Buffalo Alumni Hall at UCA.

Tickets can be purchased at www.uca.edu/alumni/homecoming. Hole and event sponsors are available, too.

Sponsorships available include hole sponsor for $250; event sponsorships begin at $500.

All proceeds from the tournament will go toward the endowment of the Gregory E. Hunt Scholarship.

Frank Holbrook, vice president of the Black Alumni Chapter, said it takes $25,000 to endow a scholarship, and the golf tournament usually raises $3,000 to $5,000. The tournament will be dedicated to Hunt for two years, he said.

“We have $10,000 raised already,” Holbrook said.

Holbrook said he got the idea to start a golf tournament to give African-American alumni another activity to participate in during homecoming, which will start Monday at UCA. Holbrook recalled that only three people, including him, showed up in 2008 for the first tournament.

“I said, ‘Man, we’ve got to do better than this,’” he said, laughing. After that first year, “it got bigger and bigger.”

Holbrook said he decided he wanted the golf tournament to have more meaning than just being a fun get-together during homecoming, and he started using the event as a fundraiser for memorial scholarships.

Holbrook said he contacted Hunt’s family with the idea to dedicate the golf tournament’s proceeds to the scholarship in Hunt’s memory.

Kendra Hunt said she had announced in April during a Black Alumni Scholarship Banquet that she was going to establish a scholarship in her late husband’s memory.

She said her husband was “very witty, but about business — he got a lot of things done; he was very goal-oriented. Because he was such a planner, I thought, ‘What can I do to keep his legacy going?’ I thought about a scholarship,” she said.

“Now we’re in the journey to get the $25,000 endowed; Frank [Holbrook] is helping us with that journey.”

Holbrook said he knew Greg well, not just because they served on the alumni board together.

“He sold me my second house,” Holbrook said. Greg started the Sandstone Real Estate Group in Conway; he was also the first African-American

president of the Faulkner County Board of Realtors and a member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity at UCA.

“He was one of those guys who was quiet, intelligent, well-mannered — raised right,” Holbrook said.

Greg’s 33-year-old sister, Marilyn Hunt of Conway, said, “He liked to joke that he raised me, but he didn’t; he was just a bossy older brother.”

She said her brother liked to play golf, and this scholarship is a perfect way to honor him. A Conway High School teacher, she is also a member of the Black Alumni Chapter Executive Board.

“We want people to sign up to participate just because it’s a fun activity … but also to bring awareness about the scholarship,” she said.

Their parents, Willie and Vergia Hunt of Lonoke, are retired teachers, and Marilyn said her brother valued education, too.

“He actually helped my parents get started with a scholarship for them; we were working to get that endowed,” she said.

“He felt like education was important; our hometown was important. He wanted kids from Lonoke, or a small town, to have opportunities.”

When the scholarship is established, Marilyn said, priority will be given to

African-American males from Lonoke who are attending or will attend UCA.

She said her brother was “nonchalant” about most matters, staying calm in the face of challenges, but he fought hard when he was diagnosed with cancer.

She said Greg was feeling sick and thought he had allergies or the flu. However, he had pneumonia, and when the fluid was drained from his lungs and scans were taken, it was discovered that he had lung cancer.

“It was very aggressive cancer. When he found out, it was already Stage 4. He had not really been sick until a few weeks before that,” she said.

Further testing determined that Greg’s cancer originated in his colon and had spread to his liver and lungs. He tried different types of chemotherapy, and at times the treatment seemed to be working, his sister said. The oncologist called it a “vicious type” of cancer, she said.

“It spread to his brain, and that was the last,” she said.

He was diagnosed Dec. 11, 2014, and died Nov. 30, 2015.

“He was very business-oriented and goal-minded; he was always thinking of a plan … always talking about networking and making connections. Even when he told us about his diagnosis, he did a conference call with our family,” Marilyn said.

She said her brother stayed positive throughout his illness.

“We are members of the [Menifee] Church of Christ, so we understand everybody is going to die and sometimes bad things happen to good people, so he was able to accept it. He was really strong through the whole process,” she said.

Greg and his wife, Kendra, had two children, Caleb, 9, and Hannah, 7.

Kendra, a counselor at Maumelle Middle School, described her husband as “very witty, but about business.” She echoed her sister-in-law’s comment that he was goal-oriented.

“After he was diagnosed, we had to sit down and decide if we were going to make his journey public. He had such a great support system, and because of that, he had to be,” Kendra said. “So many people reached out.”

Kendra said she and her husband were “ignorant when it came to cancer.”

“One of our charges was to make people more knowledgeable about it,” she said.

They started a campaign she named GH#PrayFightWin, which was designed to educate people about colon cancer. Greg wrote a blog about his experiences, Kendra said. They had T-shirts made with the hash tag, and they started sponsoring and participating in colon-cancer-awareness activities, including going to the Governor’s Mansion in March when a proclamation was signed designating March as Colon Cancer Awareness Month.

Kendra said she and Greg were “very transparent” with their children about his disease.

“They knew about the journey. They knew everything; they knew what could happen. I let them kind of decide how we handle the grief.”

His birthday was Oct. 7, and they remembered him with a celebration.

“His favorite cake was lemon cake. We had lemon cupcakes and shared our favorite Greg Hunt stories. Caleb’s was one morning when Daddy was taking them to school, [Greg] turned the music on the radio up really, really loud and was dancing and hitting the brakes and making the car bounce,” she said, laughing.

Kendra said her husband will not be forgotten by many people whom he influenced during his life, and the scholarship is just another way to continue his outreach.

“We are looking forward to honoring Greg and his legacy and helping many UCA students in the future,” she said.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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