Former governor honored as friend to kids

by Cole Dittmer
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Supplied photo courtesy of the Children’s Museum of Wilmington 

Baltimore Ravens fullback Vonta Leach, right, speaks to the audience after being presented with the Inspiration award by Terry Holland, from left, Leo Estipia and Shark Baynard on April 22, 2013, at Shell Island Resort.

For its third annual Great Friend to Kids Awards Luncheon, the Children’s Museum of Wilmington will honor former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt along with four others for their service to children. 

In 2013, Baltimore Ravens fullback Vonta Leach was among those honored during the luncheon and this year five more worthy recipients will join those ranks on Wednesday, March 5, at the new Union Station at Cape Fear Community College. 

Harriet Loweth, children’s museum board member and event organizer, said the Great Friend to Kids Awards Luncheon started as a way to recognize those who may not otherwise receive acknowledgment.

“Other children’s museums have had great friend-to-kids awards, and they … are similar in that they are looking for individuals they feel qualify,” Loweth said. “We decided to do it because it is a good idea and it is a very fitting idea for the Children’s Museum to do it, because it represents children of all ages and backgrounds.”

Like Hunt, Loweth said the awards are for those who have tirelessly helped children in multiple ways. 

“For the past several years, the Children’s Museum has endeavored to look for individuals or organizations that should be recognized for things they have done for children,” she said. “Sometimes we look a little bit beyond the obvious and look across all disciplines and across the eight counties we serve in the Southeast.”

There are five awards given, with each of the five representing part of the museum’s mission statement, Loweth said. Those categories are inspiration, curiosity, imagination, the unsung hero and innate love of learning, which is the award that will be presented to Hunt. 

“Honestly, who better is there?” Loweth said. “Governor Hunt will be remembered so much for all he did to improve the quality of education over a number of years, especially at the early education level.”

In addition to accepting the award, Hunt will serve as the luncheon’s keynote speaker and will discuss the state of early childhood education in North Carolina. 

The awards were designed by local metal sculptor Dumay Gorham and are made of steel and brass with a granite base featuring a plaque describing the works of each recipient. 

Each year one of the recipients is announced beforehand but the other four arrive to the luncheon unaware of the fact they are being recognized, Loweth said. 

“The expression on the individual’s face when they win is great, because they are not even thinking that is why they are there,” she said. “It really is priceless.”

The Cape Fear Community College culinary technology students will cater the luncheon. Tickets may be purchased online for $50 per person at


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