For Hunter, 17, of Alpena, Make-A-Wish® South Dakota has been a part of his life for nearly 10 years. Now a senior in high school, Hunter has chosen to help other Make-A-Wish kids.
At the age of 7, Hunter was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, the condition that qualified him for a wish. His wish to go on a Disney Cruise came true in May of 2006. Memories of that trip remain vivid in his mind. That opportunity gave him and his family a break from treatment and took their minds off of what he was facing.
Hunter told the Mitchell Daily Republic, "Make-A-Wish, when I got to go on that Disney cruise, they made me forget a lot of that cancer stuff," Mees said. "I think that's one of their goals, is to kind of help kids forget that they had to go through chemo and all of these surgeries."
His mom, Shannon Walls, told the Mitchell Daily Republic. “"I don't think people really understand what it does for these kids. It really does change everything—their whole perspective," Walls said. "They go from being so sick and that's their whole life, to having this dream they have come true. That moment of happiness that they get—it just changes their whole outlook for a while."
Since then Hunter and his family have been active members of the Make-A-Wish family. He has ridden in a corvette in the parade at Hot Harley Nights and has attended other events, all helping to promote Make-A-Wish and the power of a wish to donors and other families.
For his senior experience Hunter chose to raise money for Make-A-Wish to help other kids have the same wish experience that he and his family had when he was battling a life-threatening medical condition. Plans have been in the works the last two years.
Swish for Make-A-Wish took place February 9 in Wessington Springs when the Spartans and Warbirds faced off in boys basketball. Besides the game and a silent auction with 70 items, Hunter sold pork tenderloin meals and root beer floats. When the night was finished, Hunter raised more than $11,000 for Make-A-Wish South Dakota! He looks forward to coming to Sioux Falls to present his donation in early March.
“Hunter is an inspiration to all of us,” Paul Krueger, president and CEO said. “He is a special kid with a big heart and is motivated to help others. We are grateful to him and everyone involved for the generous support to make wishes come true for other kids in South Dakota.”
Following graduation this spring, Hunter is planning to attend South Dakota State University. He looks forward to a continued relationship with Make-A-Wish. When he turns 18 he plans to become an official wish granting volunteer.
Read the article about Hunter in the Mitchell Daily Republic.