Lunney keeps up helping spirit, aids youths in need
The love of sports can lead to good things in Arkansas. Barry Lunney Sr. knows that from working with young football players. He won eight state championships and finished runner-up three more times during storied runs at Fort Smith Southside and Bentonville.
There have been some neat opportunities come his way through coaching. He explained some of the good stories over iced tea this week. There’s nothing like convincing a troubled young athlete to trust in teachers and coaches.
“I have stories about what athletics has done for our young people,” Lunney said. “You just don’t know when you are going to reach into their hearts and teach them to trust in others. They have often faced struggles that you can’t understand.”
It’s those stories that made Lunney want to keep coaching. So when he retired following the 2014 season after he won his fourth state championship in a seven-year span at Bentonville, Lunney wondered how he could find meaningful ways to help others.
“I’m finding them,” he said. “They are out there. There are so many places that you can help.”
Lunney “lucked” into one of those opportunities this time last year when he was invited to a sporting clays tournament to benefit Restoration Village, a shelter in Little Flock for women with children in crisis. It tugged at his heart.
“Bobby Martin asked me to go last year and I just decided to get involved,” Lunney said. “I had a great time at the event, but what really happened is that I learned about the mission of Restoration Village. I learned what they do for these women and children from such tough conditions, helping them rebuild their self-esteem and lives.”
It’s typical Lunney. He’s always gotten engaged when youth are involved.
“I guess I have,” he said. “But I have more time now and this is something I really believed in. I was asked to help with the committee to get the word out, make it more visible. It’s great work.”
Martin has jumped in bigtime, too. Finishing his first year on the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the Rogers business leader used his personal resources to help.
“Bobby is a part owner of Greenbrier Duck Club,” Lunney said. “We were at the sporting clays tournament last year. There were some auction items. Bobby decided to help.”
In a “spur of the moment” announcement, Martin said he’d give away a hunt at Greenbrier, one of the world’s great duck hunting spots. It’s on 2,000 acres of flooded timber near Stuttgart. Many of the country’s most famous celebrities have hunted at Greenbrier.
“It was first the Winchester Club,” Lunney said. “You can see pictures of John Wayne, Clark Gable and so many other movie stars who have hunted there. If it’s not the best duck hunting club, it’s one of the top two or three.”
There was talent involved in the giveaway.
“Bobby said you had to go to the third station of the rotation, pay $200 and break at least three clays with a .28 gauge shotgun,” Lunney said. “That put your name in the
hat for a drawing. He gave away two nights and a twoday hunt at Greenbrier.”
There were 24 takers. Presumably, there will be more this year when the second annual event takes place Aug. 26 at Spring Valley Anglers near Gravette. Registration is at 7:30 a.m. The event begins at 8 a.m. Breakfast and lunch are included, and it’s over at 12:30 p.m.
“The first event last year raised $65,000 and that was enough to add a full-time worker at Restoration Village,” Lunney said. “We are hoping to top $100,000 this year.
“The live auction will be amazing. It’s great what everyone is doing.
“What I see happening is that the people of our state are amazing conservationists,” he said. “They take care of our natural resources. That’s what hunters do. What this is about is the conservation of humanity. This is the area of humanity who are most vulnerable, women and children. Our sportsmen have ponied up.
“I’ve gotten to know the founders of Restoration Village, David and Beverly Engle. David told me what they do with the women is the same thing we do in the outdoors. You have heard the saying, ‘Don’t give them fish, teach them how to fish.’ David says they teach the women how to live again. It’s amazing work.”
The retreat is a 10,000square-foot lodge and transitional house nestled on 70 acres.
Registration can be done online at restorationvillage. net. For information, contact Cynthia Cochran at email@example.com.