WASHINGTON — Since Thanksgiving, WND readers have opened their pocketbooks and their hearts to help a little boy with a rare cancer raise money for chemotherapy treatments after his insurance was canceled following the Obamacare launch.
Now, he is returning the favor: His inspiring story is changing people’s lives and bringing them closer to God.
Krista Alford, mother of 7-year-old Hunter Alford of Gainesville, Texas, sounded more than a little overwhelmed when she told WND, “People have left me messages saying they didn’t really believe in God until they read Hunter’s story. And now they are praying for my son.”
She quietly confided, “One gentleman said he’d never prayed in his entire 30 years of life. He says now he’s opened his eyes to a new life, and he thanks Hunter for that.
As WND reported, Hunter Alford lost his health insurance just after Obamacare went into effect and just as he was due to begin his last grueling and expensive round of chemotherapy.
The world learned of his plight when Hunter’s story went viral after it was posted on the Drudge Report. Hunter touched so many hearts that enough money was raised to pay for his final round of chemotherapy, scheduled for Friday.
While Hunter’s spirit inspires lives around the globe and brings people closer to God, the boy’s health troubles, unfortunately, are worsening and he may need surgery soon.
As of this report, WND readers have donated more than $47,000 to help pay for his medical expenses, and Hunter’s mother wants to make sure everyone knows how grateful the family is.
In return, many people are grateful for the inspiration provided by the courageous cancer-fighter.
Finding faith in a child
WND asked Krista: What do you think it is about Hunter’s story that is helping people connect with faith?
“I guess because they can see what he’s going through but still keeping his spirits up,” she said. “The thing is, even when he is sick, he’s so full of life. He’s smiling all the time. He always has the strength to smile. And I guess people are seeing that.”
Hunter’s sister Mikayla has also fought cancer, and the family’s trials helped Krista reconnect with God.
“My mom passed away with cancer when I was 18,” Krista explained. “After that, I was really not very good friends with God. I blamed Him for taking my mom. Then, when Hunter was born with cancer, I got even more angry at Him.”
It just got worse.
“Then my daughter was born with cancer, and I was even more angry with Him for doing that, after seeing everything that she went through,” she said.
Then, something in the face of a child changed everything.
“But, seeing her smile, and seeing all the people praying for her, brought me back to God,” Krista recalled. “It brought me back to where I needed to be.”
She found peace in reconciling with God, even with two seriously ill children.
“And then I realized my mom is in a better place,” she said. “My daughter opened my eyes, and my son opened a lot of other people’s eyes.”
‘He’s giving people strength’
Asked whether she believes God is using Hunter to help people, Krista replied, “Yes, in some way, yes. It’s just so amazing, all the messages he’s getting. He’s giving people strength who really didn’t have strength.”
Krista believes Hunter is inspiring people by setting an example and just by being himself.
“He’s seven and this is his third time dealing with cancer, and he still stands tall.”
Hunter is a natural-born fighter who has a strong love for the military. That love is reciprocated.
Medal for ‘bravery and courage’
Hunter has now been awarded an Army Commendation Medal.
It arrived in the mail Wednesday from the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, Texas.
The medal is awarded to those who have “distinguished themselves by heroism, meritorious achievement or meritorious service.”
An accompanying letter read:
“While you cannot be officially awarded with this medal until you join the United States Army, please receive it as a personal token of the undersigned’s honor and appreciation for both your bravery, and support of our armed forces. Your courage is in keeping with the best traditions of the United States Army, and does great service to our nation and your family.”
It is signed by Nicholas M. Chopp, 1LT, SC, SFAT Signal adviser, and he isn’t the only fan of Hunter’s serving our country.
Said Krista, in wonderment, “Since the story appeared on WND, it’s gone viral. It’s been crazy. We’ve been getting messages from soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. They send Hunter patches from their uniforms. He thinks that is so cool.”
A fellow warrior
It’s no wonder the soldiers identify with Hunter. He already has been through so many agonizing rounds of chemotherapy and numerous surgeries. He is a fellow warrior. And through it all, that magnetic smile keeps returning to his face.
“Yes, he’s almost back to 100 percent. He’s keeping us on our toes today. We’ve been arm-wrestling and killing zombies. Now, if we can start eating a little more, that’d be even better,” said the relieved, but still concerned, young mother.
She has been through so much already. As has he, enduring 21 rounds of chemo, so far.
“A round of chemo lasts three days in a row,” she explained. “It leaves him pretty sick. He vomits a lot. He has to stay on two nausea medicines around the clock or he can’t keep anything down. For the first week, he won’t eat anything.”
Krista said the chemo also tires him out quickly, “So, I cherish the moments he is actually up and running around, playing and being a normal seven year old.”
The difference Sunday was apparent in Krista’s voice, a lightness indicating some of her burden had been lifted, and she sounded more like a typically concerned mom than one constantly carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders.
Since his story appeared on WND the night before Thanksgiving, readers have contributed more than $47,000 to help the Alford’s medical bills, bringing total donations to $58,415 as of Wednesday. Donations can still be made on the website ‘Heroes for Hunter.’
Another round of chemo would cost $50,000, but there may be even more expenses looming.
Having the money to pay for the next round of chemo was a tremendous relief for the Alfords, but by Wednesday a new concern was growing.
A spot on Hunter’s head has grown darker, and he may not be able to start his last round of chemo Friday. He may need to have another surgery, instead.
Still no insurance
Hunter is still without insurance coverage.
The question is no longer why Hunter lost his insurance. Now it’s: Why can’t he be re-insured?
Reporter Allison Harris of local KXII-TV in Sherman, Texas, broke the story two weeks ago. She has been in contact with Texas Health and Human Services, trying to find out when the Alford’s insurance will be reinstated. So far, she has not received any answers.
THHS has given Harris possible reasons why the Alfords lost their insurance, such as it may have been accidentally canceled while the department made changes required by Obamacare. Or, small-town police officer Ron Alford may have made $170 too much income to stay qualified for the insurance program.
Hunter, the national sensation
But nearly a week after Hunter’s story became a national sensation, THHS has not explained why Hunter is still not insured and when he can expect to become insured again.
Fortunately, national support for Hunter is still growing.
He and Krista were supposed to appear on “The Kelly File” with Megyn Kelly on Fox News earlier this week, but their appearance was rescheduled due to breaking news.
Krista had never heard of the highly rated news program because, “I don’t get to watch grown-up TV. I usually watch cartoons with the kids.”
Krista thought the anchor was named ‘Mary’ Kelly, but, “My friend told me she’s a wonderful woman.”
“She read the story in WND and it brought tears to her eyes, and she just knew that she wanted to meet him,” she said.
Whether they appear on national television or not, Krista is profoundly grateful.
The prayers are working
She told WND to convey to readers how immensely thankful she is.
“Just keep up the prayers because they are working dramatically,” she urged.
The young mother said she’s dumbstruck by the kindness of strangers.
“I can’t get over all this,” she said. “It’s very overwhelming. I’m at a loss for words – and that is very unlike me. I have the gift of gab.”
But, if Hunter is becoming famous, he appears blissfully unaware of it.
Krista said when they went to Walmart, a woman approached him, said she’d seen him on television and that she’d been praying for him.
“What does my sweet boy say? ‘I’m sorry, you have me mistaken for someone else. I’m Hunter.’”
Concerned individuals may contact Texas Health and Human Services ombudsman using the online submission form or by calling (877)787-8999.
To send a message to Hunter visit the Angels for Hunter website.
Follow Garth Kant on Twitter @DCgarth