For the past six years, a grieving mom has worked hard to memorialize the life of her young son who lost his life in a car accident on Jan. 27, 2003.
Sherry Meckes of Penn Forest knew her much her son loved to play soccer, so she initiated the Hunter Meckes Memorial Soccer Tournament in his name to establish a scholarship that would be presented to deserving seniors at Jim Thorpe High School and Lehighton Area High School at their awards assembly.
The event was held Sunday at the Lehighton Area High School with 48 teams, the same amount of teams as last year, but with many more players attending from each team. Several hundred youths ages 7 to high school age enjoyed a great afternoon of soccer.
The game is always played in April which is the month that Hunter celebrated his birthday. Hunter would have turned 16 years old today.
The wind was brisk for the several hundred soccer players and vendors. The vendors were bundled up to escape the chilly wind, while the youngsters seemed to have no regard for the wind. The youngsters all came out to remember Hunter and be the player he wanted to be.
Meckes coordinates the event with the Lehighton Area Soccer Club.
Soccer players came from all over the Lehigh Valley, Monroe County Philadelphia area and Carbon and Schuylkill counties. There were high school teams from Lehighton, Tamaqua and Jim Thorpe, plus Carbon United teams playing at the event.
"I want to thank all the local sponsors and vendors who came out to make this a success," said Meckes.
Meckes said that each year becomes a little easier to plan the tournament.
"I started this event six years ago and I will start planning next year's in June or July," she said.
Meckes will present two scholarships to a graduating boy and girl in Jim Thorpe High School who is a good student and a soccer player and at Lehighton Area High School, a soccer player and a wrestler will be selected.
Also a bench and tree will be planted at the L.B. Morris Elementary School in Jim Thorpe, where Hunter had been a student with the proceeds from the Chinese auction.
"They don't have any shade at the playground at the school," said Meckes. "Now they will have shade and a place to sit."
"I started this event six years ago and I will start planning next years in June or July," she said.
Hunter's brothers were all at the event, including Shane Hunter, who is 13 years old and Dawson, 7, who both play on the Carbon United Team and Hayden, 6, was also at the event. Also attending the event were Meckes' nieces, Nikki Meckes and Cathy Meckes who were in the car the day Hunter lost his life. Nikki had been 12 and is now 22; and Cathy had been 16 and is now 26 years old.
Meckes was driving a car in an area with lots of drifting snow when the car crashed and Hunter lost his life at age 6.
This year's event raised almost $15,000 toward the scholarship fund.