BOONE, N.C. – For Appalachian State track & field student-athlete Cameron Hunter, the slogan “Make an Impact” is engraved in his mind. Every day, when Hunter prepares for track practice or puts on a track & field shirt, he sees the slogan.
Hunter, a sophomore sprinter from Mt. Tabor High School in Winston-Salem, N.C., has been collecting water bottles for those affected by Hurricane Florence with the goal to “Make An Impact.”
The idea to help others in need came from a conversation with Caitlyn Brewer, a fellow resident assistant in Bowie Hall, as the storm was close to making landfall.
“She’s a great human being and was willing to do whatever she could to help out the victims,” Hunter said. “When you have someone who is willing to drop everything and help out others, that’s where I think anyone can make an impact. From there, the thought came to my mind of how can I help, and I came up with the idea of a simple necessity: water.”
A simple conversation with a fellow student has turned into a full team effort to help those affected by the storm. Collecting water at all hours of the day, Hunter and his team have gathered more than 5,500 bottles, with donations coming in since late last week.
Hunter came to Appalachian State in the fall of 2017. He did not have an easy decision for his college education, as he was accepted into several other in-state schools.
“When it came to deciding schools, I chose the school that chose me first, and that was App State,” he said. “I’m happy with my choice because it has given me so many opportunities.”
Aside from being a member of the men’s track & field team and a resident assistant at Bowie Hall, Hunter is active across campus. A cellular molecular biology major, he serves as the athletics senator in the student government, volunteers with Habitat for Humanity and participates in the Appalachian Popular Programming Society (APPS).
“Most of the people I meet ask me how I have all the time to be so involved as a student-athlete and a cellular molecular biology major,” Hunter said. “I say there’s always time if you make it. I love being involved around campus. It gives people a reason to look up to you. I could ask questions daily to individuals across campus that I have never met before while also enjoying the positive impact I am having on campus.”
Hunter and his family have been affected by natural disasters before. His sister was displaced by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“She moved from destination to destination after the hurricane and did not receive all the benefits she was promised,” Hunter said. “This is another reason to do things like this. When it comes to bigger towns, they get more priority. They’ll get the water and clothing first, where the smaller towns will have to wait. One of the members on my group lives in Duplin County, for instance, and her family is under water right now. They will get something, but it may not be as much as an area in Charlotte or Raleigh. It’s instances like these where we think about how we can better help the smaller towns.”
With the donations of water in full effect, Hunter has received the support from numerous organizations across campus. In addition, he has also seen other students reach out and lend a helping hand.
When the idea started, Hunter had a team of about 10 students. The size of the group has increased to about 40 people and continues to grow.
“SAAC, the student government association, App State Athletics, (director of student-athlete development) Pierre Banks and (head track & field coach) Damion McLean all have supported me,” Hunter said. “I’ve also had the support of my hometown back in Winston-Salem and my high school as well. I also can’t thank my team enough. Sarah Kelley, Hector Sanchez, Matthew Jones, Will Hart, Trey Morris, Jack Nixon, Ethan Gunter, Evan Warren, Phillip Cooney and Vince Fortea have made all of this possible. Without them and so many others, none of this could have happened.”
When the drive began, Hunter collected all the water and kept it in his dorm room. With large stacks of cases throughout his room, he knew he needed more storage space.
Banks suggested storing all the water in the Ricks Athletics Center. Hunter and his team formed an assembly line and moved the first round of water into the building. It took his team almost an hour to transport all the water that had been collected. Members of the group now fill up their cars daily to store the increasing donations of water.
While no decision has been finalized on precisely when and where the water will be donated, Hunter continues to accept donations. His team has no specific goal for the amount it would like to collect, but he hopes that the impact will be felt across the state.
“I see the athletics slogan of ‘Make an Impact’ every day,” Hunter said. “I took that slogan, and we have it everywhere. At this point, everyone is asking what it means. I feel that it means to make your mark on your campus, in your town or in your state. We cannot let a hurricane or a natural disaster knock our state down. We can do something. This is our state, and we have a voice and the ability to ‘Make an Impact.’ “
To learn how to donate to his cause, contact Hunter directly at email@example.com.