When you give a 5-year-old the choice between meeting Kevin Durant or Mickey Mouse, most will choose the latter. But for Hunter, there was no hesitation for his one, true wish!
Hunter was diagnosed with cancer in 2010. His love for basketball began when he watched the movie Thunderstruck, starring Kevin Durant.
“He watched it over and over again,” said Hunter’s mom, Stephanie. “It’s funny because most kids his age wish to meet Disney characters, but basketball means the world to him. The moment we heard his wish to meet the Oklahoma City Thunder was coming true he was in total disbelief!”
It wasn’t long until Hunter and his family travelled to Oklahoma. Hunter received a personalized jersey inscribed with his name, made a half-court shot, and met the team’s mascot, Rumble the Bison.
Hunter met all of the Thunder players before the game and watched them warm-up. But his favorite moment was no surprise.
“I will never forget meeting Kevin Durant!” Hunter said.
Stephanie recalls the nearly 7-foot-tall basketball star putting his hands on Hunter’s head and calling him his “little buddy.”
“I stood there bawling,” she said. “The look on his face was something I will never forget, not because he met a celebrity but the feeling I think any kid would get from their one, true wish. It was overwhelming to see how happy he was.”
The next day, Hunter’s family went bowling with the team and had some time to hang out with the players.
“Kevin Durant made Hunter feel like he was his best friend,” Stephanie said. “We were planning to eat at his restaurant, KD’s, during the wish and Hunter thought we were going to his house!”
Even back in Arizona, Hunter’s family will always be diehard Thunder fans. They watch every single game and host “Thunder viewing parties” at their house.
Hunter’s bedroom door is decked out in team stickers and once you go inside, he has Thunder posters and pom-poms hanging all over his room.
At first, Stephanie said she was hesitant about Hunter’s wish, because she wanted to give this opportunity to someone else who might need it more. However, she was blown away by the way people’s kind donations can turn into such an intangible experience.
“The entire wish was incredible from beginning to end and I am forever grateful for the impact it had on my son,” she said.
Hunter continues to have follow-up scans but he is part of a survivor program and back to his regular schedule. The family recently went to a Suns vs Thunder game in Phoenix, but even against his home state Hunter still roots for his favorite team.
“Make-A-Wish Arizona helped me meet my best friend!” said Hunter, currently wearing his t-shirt and basketball shorts just like Kevin Durant’s.