After the passing of Harding student Blake Hunter, his family requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Department of Theatre for a scholarship honoring Hunter’s life. Hunter was involved in Spring Sing and theater productions throughout his time as a student.
“This is not the way that we wanted to start a theatre scholarship fund, but if it honors (Hunter) then that is what we will do because we loved him so much,” Cindee Stockstill, producer of theatre, said.
After research, the department determined that $25,000 is needed to start the scholarship.
Stockstill said that the theatre department will do everything they can to reach this goal.
Donations to the scholarship have not been limited to Harding affiliates. Hunter’s high school football team set up a GoFundMe account with a goal of $1,000, and they ended up exceeding this goal by $500. The earnings were donated to the scholarship fund.
Donations are also flowing in from individuals or groups that were connected to the Hunter family in some way.
“Blake was so loved and so connected to many organizations on this campus,” Stockstill said. “I don’t think that we will have a problem raising the funds to make the scholarship.”
Chili’s of Searcy, Hunter’s former workplace, hosted a fundraising event on Feb. 4 to aid Hunter’s scholarship by donating 20 percent of the night’s earnings to the fund. The restaurant raised $1,153.65 during the event. Chili’s staff pledged to match the night’s earnings and is currently working to raise those funds.
Senior Maisie Larson, a Chili’s employee, was called in early to work because of the amount of people who came to support the fundraising event.
“When I arrived at 5 o’clock, there were over 100 people waiting to be seated and that number did not decrease until 9 o’clock,” Larson said. “It was absolutely crazy, but being able to honor (Hunter) made it well worth it.”
Savannah Steward, manager of Chili’s, said that the total earnings of this fundraiser were three times more than any fundraiser that the restaurant has put on, with 309 transactions made. Steward came in on her day off just to be involved in honoring Hunter.
“It was one of those things where nobody cared about the amount of work it was,” Steward said. “Nobody complained about how busy we were. We all just wanted to help.”
Chili’s is planning on having another fundraising night the weekend of Spring Sing. For those who were unable to attend and support the Blake Hunter Theatre Scholarship, the theatre department is still accepting donations. To donate, or for more information, call 501-279-5315 or visit bit.ly/1Q8B3ck.