Luke Hampton
In honor of Luke Hampton

The LUKEfest Memorial Sunday Concert in Crouse Park kicks off summer with an afternoon of musical entertainment that commemorates Luke Hampton, a high school athlete crippled by a freak accident that has left him challenged by a lifelong disability.

Dec. 3, 2011, then Alleghany High School Senior, Luke Hampton, the state’s top-ranked 1A wrestler at 182 pounds, tripped as he lunged at his opponent. He went head-first into a wall and fell lifeless to the floor. Lives change in an instant.

Air-lifted to Wake Forest Medical Center in Winston-Salem, emergency surgery repaired damage to his C5 and C6 vertebra.

Even before the full extent of his injuries were known, “the school came together to support one of its own,” AHS Principal Chris Barnes said. Students showed up wearing green and yellow ribbons (school colors) as a tribute. T-shirts were printed for sale. Signs — large and small, some hand-lettered — began showing up in town and along US 21, all proclaiming the same sentiment: Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Fund raising began for the $40,000 not covered by insurance to airlift Luke to the Shepherd Center, a center for spinal injuries in Atlanta. In spite of lean times and a county population under 12,000, a BBQ lunch and auction raised over $20,000. The high school’s electrical trades instructor found volunteers who began building a handicap friendly addition to the Hampton home with donated materials.

Even arch-rival Ashe County High School helped raise money and received the 2012 NC Spirit of Sport Award from the NCHSAA (North Carolina High School Athletic Association) for their efforts.

Parents Randy and Benita were overwhelmed by the response of the community. Thank you seems inadequate an expression.

Luke is now back in Sparta, and his mother a community college administrator, has learned how to feed her paralyzed son, bath him, and move him with a lift.

In the frenzy before his high school graduation, he was still a center of attention. He received the Coach’s Award to add to his numerous athletic trophies and recognition. He was invited to speak at graduation. “I cried all the way through it typing it up for him,” his mother said.

It was also a bittersweet time. Friends were moving on with their plans, college or a job. Luke waited for a miracle.

His family has had to learn patience and small improvements give them hope. “Doctors tell us the spinal cord was not broken, but it’s slow to heal. It may be years before we know how much he can recover,” she said.

More than two years after his injury, Luke still requires mechanical assistance to breathe and has no use of his arms or legs. In spite of his need for ongoing daily care, he remains at home.

36 | Remember Luke

LUKEfest 2014
Crouse Park · Sparta NC

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LUKEfest is a benefit concert held each year in Sparta, NC at Crouse Park. Information on this year's concert will be posted soon. Bring a lawn chair or blanket to spread out on the grass in front of the Crouse Park Stage. Concessions will be available.

The festival is named for Luke Hampton, a high school athlete paralyzed in a wrestling tournament. No admission is charged, but donations are appreciated. All the proceeds will go to local youth, either in the way of scholarships or camp fees. In case of rain, the concert will be performed in the Alleghany Auditorium at 450 North Main Street (U.S. 21).

In recognition of Memorial Day weekend, the VWF begins the afternoon with a Color Guard and the national anthem at 1 p.m. Everybody on stage is donating their time and are playing at no charge for this special concert.

Sparta is located in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains and is the most convenient mountain community to the NC Piedmont. From I-77 take exit 83 (northbound traffic only) or exit 85 and follow US 21 North for 29 miles up the mountain to Sparta. At the second traffic signal, go right onto NC 18 North. Crouse Park begins at the second left at the intersection with Grayson St.

Find us on Facebook for photos from previous concerts. Like us for updates and share to help get the word out. The more of your friends that show up for LUKEfest, the more delightful an afternoon for you.






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