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17-year-old Hunter celebrates birthday by supporting Ronald McDonald House
In 2021, 16-year-old Hunter Hildebrand was diagnosed with Pectus Carinatum, a life-threatening condition that reduces lung capacity and makes breathing difficult. The Quincy, Illinois, native traveled to St. Louis for specialized treatment and underwent multiple cardiothoracic surgeries that broke his sternum and ribs to reconstruct his chest.
“It was scary,” says Hunter. “You never knew what was going to happen.”
The Ronald McDonald House was a place that Hunter and his family could call a home-away-from-home.
Thanks to a partnership between Project 55 Foundation and Ronald McDonald House Charities of St. Louis, Hunter was surprised with a Colton Parayko Game Day Experience. As an avid Blues fan, Hunter was excited to receive the news and couldn’t wait to watch his favorite team! He met Colton, rode on the Zamboni, sat in the penalty box, and even received a signed hockey stick. It was an incredible night for the young man.
Inspired by the generosity of RMHC St. Louis and Project 55, Hunter started a collection of wish list items to help other families in need.
On August 29, 2022, Hunter and his family stopped at the Park Avenue House to surprise the team with almost 3,000 wish list items in honor of his 17th birthday. As his family and RMHC staff began carrying in the carloads of boxes into the lobby, the House started filling up with amazon boxes, tote bags, and even buckets – holding essential cleaning supplies, nonperishable food, and other items that keep Ronald McDonald House running smoothly. That evening, Hunter shared this story at the 1st Annual Project 55 Foundation Golf Tournament and surprised Colton Parayko with a $1,000 donation.
His generosity didn’t end there. During the holidays, Hunter created a fun “Hunter’s Holiday Give Back” for guest families and invited St. Louis Mascots Louie and Fredbird to help celebrate. Colton even stopped in for a fun evening.
As the Hildebrand family continues to travel to St. Louis for medical care, they have stayed at the Park Avenue House and refilled a small chest that sits upstairs in the community dining room with treats and activities. We are beyond grateful to see this young man continue “paying it forward” to those who need it most.
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