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"Hunter's Hope" inspires community

Chittenango man to present $1,300 check to Pediatric Brain Foundation

He met Hunter Havener about six years ago, but he knew his story almost 10 years ago. Joe Barilla, a Chittenango resident born and raised in Cazenovia, was asked to pray for a 2-year-old boy as a part of the Open Door Baptist Church congregation in Cazenovia.

"I first heard of this boy [Havener] when I was asked to pray for him," Barilla said.

Chittenango resident Havener, 11, underwent a major neurological surgery when he was only 2 years old. The severity of the surgery spoke for itself as Havener's parents had to sign a long list of waivers to consent to the possibility of losing motor skills, peripheral vision, enduring complications of the left artery of the brain and many more complications.

"It's like they told us he needed the surgery Friday and we were in Boston Monday," said Havener's mother, Connie. "He was only the third child in the country to have this type of brain tumor."

Connie said the long list of surgical risks was too much for her and her husband Leigh to bear at the moment. Because there seemed to be "no hope" at the time of the surgery, Connie said her son's triumph has made it possible for her to give her to others.

Telling Hunter's story to other families has bread new hope in others, and given inspiration to fellow community members, Connie said.

After Barilla heard the story, he said he prayed for Hunter daily. Since Barilla knew Connie's parents and had a few mutual friends, he thought about the situation more.

Barilla, a 43-year member of the Cazenovia American Legion Post 88, knew that he wanted to conduct a fundraiser for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation on Hunter's behalf.

When it was coming time to perform his commander's project for the legion, Barilla headed out to the 10 counties in the Legion's 6th Ward to tell Hunter's story at different posts.

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