Best foot forward: Mariemont & Monroe high school footballers team up for 'Kicking Hunger' drive

CINCINNATI - Two local high school football kickers, Hans Hinebaugh and Nicholas Amaya, are each putting their best foot forward to help the less fortunate.

In its second year, Kicking Hunger  helps those in need by earning dollars for each point scored by the two athletes this season. Funds benefit non-profit organization City Gospel Mission in Over-the-Rhine. Mariemont High School senior Hinebaugh started the program in 2012, raising more than $3,800 the first year.

The donation Hinebaugh raised last year alone benefited thousands of local people explained City Gospel Mission communication director Tim Curtis.

“Typically the way we break it down is it’s a $1.92 for meal and care, so $3,800 last year, that’s almost 2,000 people and that’s meals and care as well,” Curtis said. “So it’s a lot, and it goes a really long way. It’s so inspiring to see Hans’ story of how someone so young is doing such an amazing thing.”

Bringing the mission home

According to Hinebaugh, the idea struck him after a mission trip with his church to Cancun, Mexico. He said just outside the resorts and luxury condos his group found a startling world, rampant with poverty and starvation.

Although his first inclination was to help the children in Mexico, he said he found the logistics too complex. Instead, he looked inward and recognized an overwhelming need here at home.

“It was kind of interesting because I’ve been going to volunteer at City Gospel Mission with my family since I was six or something and it struck me that hunger’s the same in both places, and I could do something to help here,” Hinebaugh said.

Unbeknownst to City Gospel Mission, Hinebaugh approached local businesses, friends and family to help raise funds by having them sponsor dollars for points he scored on the field. He said when he presented the organization with a check for $3,800, they were beyond grateful.

Next City Gospel Mission set up a fundraising page on its website and sponsored an informational video.

Watch the video (story continues below)

Doubling the effort

Hinebaugh said he's encouraged that one other player has joined him this year and he hopes additional athletes will step up. 

Monroe High School freshman, Nicholas Amaya, said he became interested in helping the homeless when he would go with his family to volunteer at soup kitchens during the holidays. He explained that the need really hit home after he attended a number of Bengals and Reds games and saw firsthand all the people on the streets in need of help.

When his mother, Abbie Amaya, found City Gospel Mission was in search of kickers through the organization's Facebook page, Amaya said he was ready to add his foot to the effort.

“I’ve raised over $750 so far,” he said. “I’ve mostly just been fundraising with family and friends, but there are also some people who work with my mom, too, who are donating.”

Amaya tries to mostly focus on the game when he plays, but afterward his mom will remind him he not only helped his team, he’s raised money for those who are less fortunate. He said while this is his first year, he’s encouraged by all the support and sees this as a long-term commitment.

“I plan to do this for my whole high school career and keep raising money,” he said.

Aiming for goals

The 2013 goal for Kicking Hunger is $6,000. In addition to gaining dollars for scoring field goals and extra points, HInebaugh said individual donations have come via the website and there are proceeds from t-shirt sales.

With Amaya on his team this year, HInebaugh hopes to raise funds along with awareness. At approximately $50 per point, he estimates the two have scored 42 points so far, with a couple of regular and post season games left to play. He said with their combined effort he hopes to not only reach, but exceed this year’s goal.

“Yeah, I thought that was very cool that (Amaya) decided to do this too,” he said. “I’m very happy he’s
out there raising money and donating it. I’m glad he’s taking it on because it’s not easy, for sure.”

Even with their best efforts, Curtis explained City Gospel Mission is forced to turn away those seeking shelter when the beds are. He said the shelter hopes to break ground for new facility in Queensgate in the near future. The new shelter will double capacity to meet the local need. 

Curtis said City Gospel Mission owes so much to the efforts of all those who have donated their time and money to help people in need, including the two young athletes.

“They’re just a blessing to us," he said. 

About City Gospel Mission:

  • Established in 1924 by James Gamble of Proctor & Gamble
  • Provides food, shelter, recovery programs and youth development programs and  job training and placement programs
  • Serves about 12,000 youths and 9,000 adults each year
  • Serves
    • 139,000 meals and provides 29,000 nights of shelters
    • Supported by more than 2,500 volunteers and approximately 350 local churches, organizations and businesses
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