Kameron Hale lived a short life, but the generosity he filled it with lives on through the good works of the eponymous foundation started after his death.
The Aug. 20 benefit concert country crooners Barrett Baber and Zach Seabaugh
are putting on at Lake Hamilton’s Wolf Arena will help Kamo’s Kids continue to serve area youths. Foundation director Steve Qualls said all the county’s seven school districts, along with the Centerpoint and Mount Ida districts, have reaped the largesse Kamo’s Kids has generously provided.
It awards eight $1,000 and two $500 scholarships to two of the schools annually. Recently, it bought computers for Lakeside schools and a van for the Ouachita Children’s Center. Qualls said the foundation’s ethos is in keeping with how Hale lived his life. He died at age 16 in an ATV accident at home.
“He was a super giving kid,” he said. “If a kid didn’t have clothes or shoes or socks, he’d give them his.”
Qualls said all the proceeds Kamo’s Kids receives goes to its charitable endeavors, with none going to administer the foundation.
“All the money stays in Garland County,” Qualls said. “One hundred percent of donations get spent. We use no donated funds for administrative costs. We only have a small board of advisers.”
Its biggest beneficiary is the nationally recognized Garland County Drug Court and its H.E.R.O.S. program. The Helping Each Other Reach Our Sobriety acronym was minted in 2014 by children in the program, a designation meant to dissociate it from a pejorative perception that attaches to those in the grip of addiction.
“We let our kids sit down and throw out different ideas, and the kids liked (H.E.R.O.S.),” Chris Burrow, juvenile drug court director, said after the program was formed. “We don’t refer to our kids as drug court kids.”
Scholarships for activities that build self-worth steer H.E.R.O.S. kids away from addiction, helping making the drug court a model for best practices that have been co-opted by jurisdictions around the country.
Kamo’s Kids helps pay for the music, arts, and sports programs that fill idle time once was occupied by self-destructive pursuits.
“Some of these kids will never get the opportunity to do some of these things,” Burrow said. “We want to give them that opportunity to find a healthier hobby. A lot of them just need that positive encouragement. Some of them get labeled, and they get discouraged. They get to a point where they feel like, ‘so what.’ We want to put them in something positive.”
The activities are also a carrot that encourages kids to abide by the terms of their accountability agreements.
“A friend of mine is a professional guide on Lake Ouachita,” Qualls said. “Several guys graduated, and we wanted to reward them. They had never been fishing before, so we took them out on the lake, took them to a nice dinner and played it up big for them. We were able to fund that through Kamo’s Kids.”
Baber, a Fayetteville resident whose star turn on season nine of “The Voice” fixed him in the country music firmament, is Burrow’s cousin. Burrow said Baber leapt at the chance to bring his newfound celebrity to bear for a worthy cause. The former schoolteacher enlisted the precocious Seabaugh as his opening act. The 17-year-old is also an alum of “The Voice.”
“(Baber) said he’d absolutely do it, and he got Zach to come with him,” Burrow said, adding that the Lake Hamilton School District is hosting the event at the $16 million Wolf Arena at no charge. “They’re providing all the audio visual for us. They’ve been a big supporter of Kamo’s Kids.”
Tickets are available at http://www.eventbrite.com. General admission is $30. VIP tickets featuring special floor seating, dinner and a meet and greet with Baber and Seabaugh are available for $100. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 7 p.m.
Burrow said 2,600 tickets were printed for the show. Businesses interested in sponsorship opportunities can contact him at 282-1528.