Saying that the late Griggs Hampton of Mount Airy was a fundraiser extraordinaire is a gross understatement. In fact, Hampton is still managing to aid one of his favorite causes nearly nine months after his death.
“He’s still generating money, and that’s what he would have wanted,” Donna Brinegar, a longtime friend of Hampton’s, said Friday of ongoing efforts in preparation for the Relay for Life event in Mount Airy later this month.
In the meantime, Brinegar is urging the public to make donations to Relay for Life in Hampton’s name — essentially making up for what he would be doing personally if still alive.
“I would like for people to give in his honor,” she said.
Hampton died last Dec. 21 at age 62 after battling brain cancer and had suffered from cerebral palsy since birth. But during his lifetime, he embraced many charitable causes including the Relay for Life campaign of the American Cancer Society and the March of Dimes. He is credited with soliciting more than $100,000 in donations for those two charities alone and frequently was recognized as the top fundraisers for those for which he worked.
“How lucky this city has been to have known someone who was as dedicated to helping others as Griggs Hampton,” Brinegar added. “His involvement in Relay for Life was outstanding through the years.”
Hampton often devised creative ways to aid that cause, such as building a kissing booth — featuring himself — for its campaign in 2010. He actually wore the kissing booth, which had an opening for his face to appear.
On another occasion, Hampton donned a prison jumpsuit and had himself “arrested” in order to solicit contributions for his release. He dressed up as Elvis Presley as a further gimmick to combat the disease that eventually would claim his life.
The lifelong Mount Airy resident also did things the old-fashioned way.
“From door to door, business to business, and everywhere he went you could count on him to ask for money to help others,” Brinegar recalled.
It reached the point where people automatically would reach for their wallets as soon as they saw Hampton arrive. Brinegar believes they simply wanted him to reach whatever goal was at hand, and gave without hesitation.
Brinegar, who wants the legacy of her friend to live on, is hoping that same spirit of giving will continue as the Relay for Life event approaches on Sept. 15, the first to be held since his death in December.
That gathering, which will highlight cancer survivors as well as honor those who’ve lost the fight, has been dedicated to Griggs Hampton. It will be held on the Mount Airy High School football field from noon to 10 p.m.
“We’ve already had a couple of fundraisers,” Brinegar added regarding efforts to continue her friend’s work. These include a Griggs Hampton memorial walk that is intended to become an annual event, and a cornhole raffle for a Relay for Life team named for him, which will be among more than 50 teams represented on Sept. 15.
Brinegar also is thankful to those who continue to give to a special fund set up for Hampton. Contributions to the Griggs Hampton Memorial Fund can be made at Surrey Bank and Trust in Mount Airy.
“Life’s most-urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’” said Brinegar, who believes her friend personified that sentiment.
“If only we all could leave this life with such an impact on others.”
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.