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Nonprofit wants to send troops to see Katy Perry at NC concert

Marine Lance Cpl. Thomas Smith seizes the opportunity to kiss singer, Katy Perry, on stage during the opening night block party for Fleet Week New York on May 24, 2012.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Matthew Hunt has a passion for letting members of the military know they’re appreciated.

In 2007, the University City resident turned that passion into A Rose of Thanks, a nonprofit organization that allows people to personalize greeting cards sent to those serving overseas.

With the help of fewer than a dozen volunteers, his nonprofit has touched more than 100,000 lives through cards, care packages and other fundraisers.

His latest effort involves working with with the Raleigh-based USO-NC to give troops the opportunity to see Katy Perry on her Prismatic tour June 22 in Raleigh.

The tour will begin May 7 in Belfast, Ireland, with performances in Scotland and England that month. From June to October, the second leg of the tour will be in the United States and Canada.

The money spent on tickets for the second leg will go to UNICEF, Autism Speaks, St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

The donated tickets will be distributed to military and their friends and family through the Raleigh-based USO and Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune.

“I started this by donating the first two tickets,” he said. “We are looking for businesses to donate a few tickets, preferably a pair or a four-pack, so we can send a family of four or four friends.”

Hunt’s also reaching out to businesses, radio stations and other people he’s worked with throughout the years, as well as Perry’s management, but they aren’t directly involved in the effort.

“The president of the USO of NC also has put an invite out there asking Katy to stop by the USO of Raleigh on her way through,” said Hunt.

Hunt and his nonprofit have traveled throughout the United States, setting up displays at the Oscars, the Grammys and major concerts like the Vans Warped Tour and sporting events like the Valero Alamo Bowl, as well as local events like Charlotte’s Bartenders Ball and the Special Olympics in Cabarrus County.

Through his travels, Hunt has met dozens of celebrities from hit TV shows like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Glee” and “Modern Family,” as well as a long list of musicians and actors, who have personalized cards for troops.

“It is pretty amazing how something so simple as a black-and-white outlined card could make so much of a difference in people’s lives,” Hunt said.

Hunt also helped raise money for the Flight 93 Memorial, to honor those who died in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001. The memorial is the only one for those lost on 9/11 that is still not fully funded, said Hunt.

To raise money, he drove the entire length of Interstate 40 in what he called, “I-40 for 40.” He asked others to donate or drive at least 40 miles along I-40, and donate 40 cents per mile.

Connection to Perry

Hunt met Perry in Charlotte five years ago during Grave Diggers Ball, where A Rose of Thanks set up a booth and brought a fan of Perry’s from Detroit.

“Back then, Katy was really big into talking to fans and getting to know them,” said Hunt. “This girl, Jamie, has Katy’s first album cover tattooed on her back. She also made a poster with the tagline, ‘A Katy Cat for life because the ink is purrmanent.’”

After the show, the two took the poster near the stage and waited to see if Katy would sign it.

“When I unfolded it, you could see her eyes light up,” said Hunt. “As soon as Jamie came around the radio station’s truck, Katy was screaming. It was like she was calling out to a friend she hadn’t seen in a while and that is when I truly got hooked.”

Hunt said he simply wants to share that kind of joy with the troops.
 

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