Hunter, 18, stepped out of the limo and onto the red carpet to the sound of fans screaming and cameras clicking. He walked alongside Alexander Ovechkin, captain of the Washington Capitals, who frequently stopped for photos with adoring fans. One fan even requested an autograph from Hunter, who was more than eager to oblige.
“Probably the red carpet,” Hunter said of the highlight of his wish. “That was pretty crazy getting out in front of a bunch of people with Ovechkin is unbelievable. I don’t know how it gets much better than this!”
The feverish fanfare came on the heels of the Capitals winning the Stanley Cup in the spring, with Ovechkin named as the MVP of the series. When Hunter, who has a life-threatening gastrointestinal disorder, wished to meet Ovechkin months earlier, he had no idea that the Capitals would grant his wish during the hoopla of the season opener with a Stanley Cup banner raising ceremony to kick off the game.
“I’m extremely thankful for family and the Capitals organization, Make-A-Wish – it’s just amazing,” Hunter said. “They blew this one out of the park.”
Hunter even had the chance to meet Capitals owner Ted Leonsis and the Stanley Cup for a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity during his wish experience.
“Make-A-Wish Foundation is one of the great organizations in our country,” Leonsis said. “The work they do to support families and children with really, really tough situations is beyond reproach. Today was just another indication on how important this work is. Hunter has had a tough go in a number of ways. Just to have him be motivated to come meet his favorite player in Alex Ovechkin and go to Opening Night to watch us put the banner up.”
Hunter’s parents watched him transform in front of their eyes as he experienced once-in-a-lifetime moments during his wish, including skating on the ice with the team at practice.
“It’s mind blowing how many cool things have happened to him,” Hunter’s dad, Scott, said. “It’s just unbelievable. Today, he’s the old Hunter. They managed to pull out my kid from kind of a daze that he has been in. This is the old Hunter that I know – outgoing and smiley.”
The wish experience provided Hunter with a welcome break from his medical condition.
“Last night he was really fired up, talking nonstop,” Hunter’s mom, Laura, said during his wish. “I mean normally getting two words out of him, how’s your day, but he was just so energized and just wanted to talk over and over and tell us all of the details about what happened. The level of detail and the level of compassion of everyone has been amazing.”