Garth Kant is WND Washington news editor. Previously, he spent five years writing, copy-editing and producing at "CNN Headline News," three years writing, copy-editing and training writers at MSNBC, and also served several local TV newsrooms as producer, executive producer and assistant news director. He is the author of the McGraw-Hill textbook, "How to Write Television News."More ↓Less ↑
WND readers around the world are helping to save a child’s life.
It’s like the film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” only instead of the small town of Bedford Falls, the entire global village is pitching in to help a family desperately in need.
The story of brave, young, cancer-fighter Hunter Alford has circled the globe in the past 24 hours and touched the hearts of people everywhere.
Thanks to the generosity and kindness of strangers, more than $41,000 has been raised in just the last 24 hours to help pay for Hunter’s medical bills. The story of the Alford’s plight went viral after the Drudge Report posted WND’s story. Total donations now exceed $55,000 and are climbing by the hour.
Hunter’s mother, Krista, told WND the reaction to his story has been remarkable.
“Oh, it’s been absolutely amazing. Hunter is getting a lot of messages through my Facebook page and through (donations website) “Heroes for Hunter.” He’s got so many people praying for him and pulling for him. I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.”
Some of those messages are especially thrilling for a little boy who loves the military.
“He had several soldiers telling him not to give up the fight,” she said. “He likes that the soldiers will send him pictures and that they are telling him to be proud of the scars on his head.”
The soldiers tell him they are his “warrior scars.”
Krista chuckled and said: “He’ll just rub his head and say, ‘OK, I guess I can just say I got attacked by zombies again.’ He’s also very proud of the scars on his stomach and back. After his surgery, he would show people and tell them, ‘I survived a zombie attack.’”
She told WND: “When the article came out, Krista had gotten a text message from WND stating it had been posted and Krista couldn’t get her computer running fast enough. So, I started reading her the article while she was on the phone with me, and she and I were crying together.”
And then they realized something bigger was happening.
“We started getting responses immediately. When we started getting comments of support from people in Israel, we realized this was reaching people not just from all over the United States, but from all around the world, as well,” said Shannon.
She said Krista is “just astounded that word got around the world so quickly.”
“She was in complete and utter shock,” Shannon said.
“We found out it was on the Drudge Report the next morning, on Thanksgiving. I was in the shower, and my father, who is 71 years old, called me on the telephone and said, ‘Shannon, you better look. It hit the Drudge Report this morning and it’s gone viral.’ He was doing a jig on the phone and crying and excited, and so was I.”
Shannon called Krista right away to tell her the amazing news.
“I think she didn’t believe me at first. But when she saw it was on Drudge, she was really excited. And we were so thankful to everybody who has done so much work (to help Hunter). We are thankful to WND for getting the real story out there. Something had to be done.”
Uninsured mother also chronically ill
Hunter isn’t the only one in the Alford family with a chronic illness and no health insurance.
The amazing story took another dramatic twist Friday morning when WND attempted to contact Krista to check up on Hunter.
Her husband, Ron, replied that Krista had suffered a seizure.
Fortunately, Krista felt well enough to speak later in the day.
She courageously agreed to speak about her own medical condition.
Are you epileptic?
“Yes, sir,” she replied, explaining that she suffers from seizures about once a year.
Krista described how the seizures can be triggered by stress. She said the stress is not only caused by Hunter’s recent problems; she is overwhelmed and grateful for the sudden outpouring of support from people.
“I am just amazed at all the people helping us,” she said.
Asked if she has health insurance, Krista replied: “No, sir. If we were to get insurance through my husband’s job, it would take half his paycheck. It’s about $1,000. We can’t afford that, along with our house payment.”
WND noted the goal for donations on the website “Heroes for Hunter” has gone up from $50,000 to $100,000. Shannon said that was because the Alfords now have a five-day hospital visit to pay for, in addition to needing $50,000 to pay for another round of chemotherapy for Hunter.
Krista explained, “We actually have a total of 15 days in the hospital and two ambulance rides to pay for.”
Shannon wanted to clarify something else people have been asking about: Why the Alfords did not try to take Hunter to St. Jude’s pediatric treatment and research facility, which treats seriously ill children in need without charge.
“Krista did try to go to St. Jude’s,” she said. “However, because Hunter has already had treatment including chemo, St. Jude’s won’t take them. That’s because it’s a not a brand new case.”
‘He is doing good’
And how is Hunter doing now?
The relief apparent in her voice, Krista wanted people to know: “He is doing good. He’s almost back to 100 percent of his normal self. He’s sleeping right now. For some reason last night, he did not want to sleep.”
Asked whether Hunter knows so many people are rooting for him, Krista replied: “Yes, he’s seen it on the news, and I am showing him stuff that people have posted on Facebook. But he’s asking, ‘Why are they posting that picture of me? That’s not a good picture of me. I have no shirt on, and it’s showing my button.’”
His “button” is what Hunter calls the port where they give him his chemotherapy medicine.
‘I could not be more thankful’
Krista said she has a message for everyone reading Hunter’s story.
“Thank you so much,” she said. “Just keep praying for Hunter because it’s awesome. So many neat people are helping, I just am overwhelmed by all of it. It warms my heart. It’s all over the place. I could not be more thankful for everyone praying for my son.”
The mention of prayers caused Krista to choke up for a moment. She mustered the strength to begin speaking again, although haltingly.
“The money helps pay for the bills, but we so appreciate all the prayers,” Krista said. “I could pay bills until the day I die. But I am just so grateful they are doing this for my son. I so wasn’t expecting it, because it is hard times right now. It is just overwhelming.”