As a reporter, I come into contact with a lot of people. Most of the people are good people. I can't think of any, though, who impressed me as much as Hunter Wolfe did.
I only met Hunter this past March. Sad to say, I met him only one more time after that.
Hunter was only 12-years-old and on Thursday, July 7, he passed away. He lost a valiant battle he fought against cancer.
In April, Hunter, the son of Kimberly Sargeant and Tony Wolfe, both of Jim Thorpe, was one of the recipients of the annual "Courage Awards" of the local chapter of the American Cancer Society.
I've done stories on numerous Courage Award recipients over the years and have been humbled by so many of them for their bravery and determination.
Hunter was nothing less than incredible. Except that he wore a feeding tube, one wouldn't have known he was sick.
His attitude was upbeat. He vowed to defeat the devil that was eating inside him and to get better. He was convincing.
The whole time I interviewed him, his smile never waned. His wit never diminished. His words never turned negative. His attitude didn't turn bitter.
Before his cancer, Hunter had so much going for him. He loved sports, he has a great family, and he was very bright and personable.
In was in October 2010 less than one year ago that Hunter was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. The diagnosis floored his parents considering only a month before, he had blood work done and had received a clean bill of health.
That September, he complained about some pains, a throbbing headache, and feeling lightheaded. He visited a pediatrician. After numerous tests, he and his family were assured they were just "growing pains."
When lightheadedness returned in October, he got more blood work done. Mononucleosis was a suspect ailment. But the diagnosis was leukemia.
Hunter loved playing basketball.
In fact, one of his idols was Andrew Keiser, a 6-6 center for the Holy Cross basketball team. Hunter had met Keiser who gave the youngster "a bunch of things" including a beanie and basketball signed by the Holy Cross team.
One reason Hunter looked up to Keiser was at the age of 8, Keiser also battled leukemia, the same type that Hunter was fighting. Keiser, who is the nephew of Joe Shigo of Lansford, somehow emerged from the talons of the dreadful ailment.
Hunter was going to win the battle, too. He promised me he would.
And, actually, he did. It could not destroy the determination, joyfulness, and optimism that he so possessed. He just had no control of the demon's assault on the rest of his body.
The illness made him change his career plans. Instead of being a pro basketball player, he was so impressed by the people who treated him that he was going to someday work in the medical field. He would have made a great doctor. In fact, he would have been great no matter what career he chose. He had the right attitude.
On April 10, just two months ago, Hunter got his "Courage Award" from the American Cancer Society. Nobody deserved it more than he did. Nobody.
Attending the award ceremony, and attesting to his adoration and respect, were about 30 of Hunter's young friends. All sat at a large round table at Penn's Peak and were having a great time; laughing, drinking sodas, eating pizza.
It's so hard to believe that just two months later, Hunter has left us.
Hunter was supposed to get treatments for his leukemia until October 2013. Then he'd be okay.
But obviously there are things in greater control of this fragile thing called "life" than sometimes we, ourselves are.
It's sad that someone like Hunter is taken from our midst at such a young age. Words can't begin to heal the heartache his family must feel.
We're thankful for the opportunity we had to spend some time with him, and experience the enjoyment and inspiration that he conveyed.
He truly was a very special, remarkable person.
Donations in the name of Hunter Wolfe can be made to St. Joseph's Regional Academy, 25 W. Sixth St., Jim Thorpe, Pa. 18229.