Mason Hawk may be a great student, a strong athlete and a gifted pianist, but his passion and advocacy for children battling life-threatening illnesses is what truly makes him stand out. Inspired by his brother’s liver transplant journey, Mason found purpose through volunteering with Children’s Dream Fund at the age of 13.
This past spring, as a member of the Tampa Prep baseball team, he spearheaded a remarkable fundraising initiative—a JV and Varsity Hit-A-Thon—to raise money to fulfill the dreams of two local children. Mason is on a mission to do more to bring joy and impact change among the most courageous kids.
How has your personal experience with your brother’s liver transplant journey influenced your dedication to helping children in need?
Mason Hawk: Earlier in my childhood, my brother was often admitted into the hospital for multiple nights in a row. I witnessed how hard it can be to battle a life-threatening illness on the patient as well as the family. I was also able to see how impactful nonprofits like the Children’s Dream Fund can be in a sick child’s life. I feel that these experiences make me able to relate more with helping children and make me more passionate about the issue.
What motivated you to initiate the JV and Varsity Hit-A-Thon at Tampa Prep to raise funds for Colton’s wish? How did you come up with this idea?
Mason Hawk: When I transferred to Tampa Prep, I knew I wanted to create a fundraiser supporting the Children’s Dream Fund, but I wasn’t sure how. However, once I heard about a young baseball player named Colton King who is battling leukemia, I thought it would be a great idea to involve my team to support and sponsor his dream. When I met with my head coach, A.J. Hendrix, about it, he was very supportive and helped me plan the event.
What was the outcome from the Hit-A-Thon?
Mason Hawk: At the end of the Hit-A-Thon, the baseball team and I reached our goal of $5,000 and then exceeded it by over $3,000. With these extra donations, we were not only able to sponsor Colton’s Dream, but also a young girl named Gabria’s Dream as well.
It takes a lot of grit, vision and fearlessness to pursue the ideas you have to make a difference. What approaches do you take or strategies do you employ to make things come together for the goals you have?
Mason Hawk: When it comes to reaching the goals I have, I try to aim as high as possible, and not put a limit on what can be done. In the case of the Hit-A-Thon, I originally thought of $5,000 as lofty. However, the team really came together and worked hard to get as many donations as possible, and we were able to crush our original goal.
How do you plan to keep helping children in need after high school? Do you have any specific aspirations in this regard?
Mason Hawk: For my senior year, my goal is to create a club that will support the Children’s Dream Fund at Tampa Prep. Through this club, I hope to be able to fully sponsor three dreams for children in need. I also hope that this club spreads awareness to the other students at my school and encourages others to become more passionate about helping children battling illness.
Based on your support and involvement with the organization, we learned that you will be nominated for the Lightning Community Hero Award by Children’s Dream Fund. What would it mean to you to win this award, and how does this type of recognition make you feel?
Mason Hawk: Winning the Lightning Community Hero Award would mean a lot to me. Being able to give back to Children’s Dream Fund – especially for their new program: Super Siblings – would be a huge honor. However, I know I want to continue what I am doing whether I am ever recognized or not, because being able to see the positive impact my volunteering and fundraising has on the children already means enough to me.
Let’s talk about baseball. It has connected you with players on so many levels beyond the game itself. Do you see yourself playing next year, and where would that be?
Mason Hawk: My goal beyond high school would be to continue playing baseball at a high academic liberal arts college. Not only do I love competing on the field, but I have also met some of my closest friends through baseball. I love being part of a team and forming close relationships with my teammates.
While you have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to social impact and being a Varsity athlete, you also have a special musical gift. Tell us about your instrument of choice and how you became so proficient.
Mason Hawk: I have been playing piano for about 13 years now. When I was young, my piano teacher gave me a classical base. I became more interested in jazz and blues, however. I learned how to improvise and play jazz mostly on YouTube, as well as from my school band teacher. Now, I enjoy playing by ear and improvising. I hope to keep learning about music and pursue it as a minor in college.
What is your favorite thing to do with your family in Tampa Bay?
Mason Hawk: My favorite thing to do with my family in Tampa Bay is going to local sporting events in the area, mainly to see the Rays and the Lightning. I also enjoy the music scene, whether that’s local musicians, festivals or large concerts.
Originally published in August 2023 of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.