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Hunter Duger

Graduating Auburn High School senior Hunter Duger, 18, received a scholarship for community involvement. Duger started a shirt business, Five20Five, which donates a portion of profits to nonprofit organizations fighting drug abuse.

Hunter Duger never forgot when his wrestling teammate Nick Campagnola would take Hunter to his house for peanut butter sandwiches before matches.

Hunter remembers Nick, the Auburn High School wrestling captain at the time, as funny and kind. Nick's gestures left an impact, Hunter said.

"I was a seventh-grader on the team so usually older kids would pick on the younger guy, so it was nice," Hunter said.

Nick's 2015 death from a drug overdose inspired Hunter, 18, to donate 15 percent of the profits from his new shirt business, Five20Five, to nonprofits fighting the opioid epidemic.

Hunter was announced June 4 as the winner of the Ruth and Charles B. Goldman Memorial Scholarship, which is awarded annually to an Auburn senior who shows an interest in public matters. Hunter will receive $1,000 toward his first year of college. Jay Goldman said the scholarship is named after his parents, who were lifelong Auburn residents before they passed away. They spent their lives being involved in the Auburn area and social causes, Jay said.

Hunter stood out from other applicants through his grades and his detailed essay outlining his public affairs work and explaining each step in setting up his business and the reasons behind it, Jay said. He believes Hunter espouses the same focus on civil causes that Jay's parents held dear.

"He's demonstrating that even one person can have a role in taking on one of the major societal issues that's plaguing our youth," Jay said.

Hunter was thrilled to receive the Goldman and other scholarships. He said the funds will be useful as he heads into the University of Vermont this fall to study biomedical engineering and premedical studies. Donating profits to anti-drug organizations such as the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids and Bryan's HOPE was a part of his plan for Five20Five from the beginning, Hunter said. He didn't have enough money to donate much on his own, he continued, so he opted to give in a different way. 

Five20Five, which began in November, sells shirts with various designs that Hunter bought from artists. The company name was inspired by the fact that his birthday is May 25, and his brother Austin, 20, was born on 5:25 p.m. on a different day.

Hunter said he believes consumers are trending less toward designer brands like Abercrombie & Fitch and more toward shirts with specific phrases or designs. Building a website was taxing at first, he said, but he believes he has improved significantly since. Hunter said he has been teaching his father, Lane Duger, how to run the business in case Hunter becomes swamped with college work.

Another goal of Hunter's is to add metal water bottles to the business. Though metal bottles may be costlier than the more common plastic variety, he wants to be environmentally friendly.

"I don't want plastic water bottles floating around because of me," Hunter said.

Hunter hopes to keep the business going as long as possible, and as it grows, he plans to donate higher percentages to nonprofits that are focused on stopping opioid use from ravaging more lives.

"I saw what the families go through firsthand and it's horrible," Hunter said. "So being able to change that would be really nice."

Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or kelly.rocheleau@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.

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Education Reporter