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Hope For Hunter

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By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  As hot as it is outside right now, in almost every neighborhood in South Georgia, you're likely to find kids playing outside. But one little boy can't go outside with the others. Now, his family and his church are working to bring the outdoors to him.

11-year old Hunter Etheridge was born with something called mitochondrial disease. It's a type of muscular dystrophy that makes his cell function weak. Last summer that disease combined with the heat created another complication for him.

Hunter Etheridge is like every other kid. On days like this, he wants to be anywhere but inside.  "Play with my friends and play basketball and all that outside," he said.

And that's what he was doing last summer, when something went terribly wrong while on a field trip. "You could just look at Hunter and tell he was not himself. He could barely put one foot in front of the other," said his mother, Kim Etheridge.

He had a heat stroke and was admitted to the hospital. Since then, his body has not been able to regulate its internal temperature. This summer, even while inside, his baseline temperature hovers around 100. 

"I do worry about him and his health, and then also not being able to be a child. That's the saddest thing to me," said Kim Etheridge.

Sad because Hunter isn't allowed outside when the heat index is above 90, which is pretty much all day long. That's why his family wants to bring the outdoors to him, building a large room onto their home where Hunter can have space to play.

"The last thing of third of the room is going to be all windows, so that way he'll still be able to have the feeling of being outside and seeing everything, just it will be in a controlled environment for him," said his mother.

Allowing Hunter to be a kid again. Enjoying what nature has to offer, without sacrificing his health.

Of course, as you can imagine, building a large room onto the home isn't cheap. Many contractors have agreed to donate their time and materials, but many more supplies and much more money is needed to finish the job. 

There are collections jars around town and several fundraisers going on in the Albany area for Hunter. An account has also been set up at Albany Federal Employees Credit Union.

We have much more information, like where you can donate and what supplies are still needed to build the room, on our website.

Click HERE to link to Hunter's Facebook page

Items still needed:

Trusses
Siding
Shingles
Windows and doors
Eight yards of concrete

Fundraisers:

Meatslangers is selling BBQ tickets through August 31st for $7
The Bank of Lee County is also hosting an ongoing fundraiser

Collection jars are set up at:

The Barber Shop on Palmyra Rd. in the Lamar Parr Center
Pearly's
SWGA Medical Centers
Donut Factory


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