Libby boys’ fundraiser supports Wings Cancer Center

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Karen Stickney and Hunter Rooney celebrate the donation of $5,225.42 to Wings Regional Cancer Support Tuesday. Hunter’s second annual yard sale helped raise the money. Stickney is Rooney’s great aunt and Wings board member and president. (Courtesy photo)

Ten-year-old Hunter Rooney truly knows how to inspire others.

The Libby boy who raised nearly $1,400 in a yard-sale fundraiser in 2018, worked with his family and friends to more than triple the amount in his latest efforts to support the nonprofit Wings Regional Cancer Support.

“My family and friends donated a motherload of stuff and I couldn’t believe we raised as much as we did,” Hunter said. “We had trailer loads of donations, we had sections for gaming, for Christmas, kids and adults, we had a wood stove, we had a mounted mountain lion, and several people gave us $20 bills.”

The two-day total of their recent yard sale was $5,225.42. Hunter presented a check to his great aunt, Karen Stickney, a Wings board member and president. It’s the third straight year Hunter donated money to Wings. In 2017, he donated a piggy bank containing more than $100.

Hunter’s great-grandmother, Connie Wood, co-founded the nonprofit Wings Regional Cancer Support in 1995 to help Northwest Montana cancer patients and their families pay for travel expenses associated with treatment.

Hunter lost his great-grandmother to cancer in 2013 — and then his grandmother, Diana Rooney, in 2017.

Hunter battles his own affliction every day, Type 1 diabetes.

According to diabetes.org, in Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin, which it needs for energy. Insulin is a hormone that the body needs to get sugar from the bloodstream into the cells of the body.

His mom, Jill Rooney, said it’s a daily struggle, but Hunter hasn’t let it slow him down.

“He has such a big heart and he’s definitely not your average 10-year-old,” Jill said.

Jill explained that Hunter gets four to seven insulin shots per day, depending on his blood sugar level. She said he has a continuous blood sugar monitor inserted under his skin and that determines how many shots he gets each day.

“He didn’t want to insulin pump, but it’s great that he doesn’t have to prick his fingers several times a day,” Jill said.

In spite of his challenges, Hunter has excelled at sports, placing second in his division in Montana in wrestling and bowling.

“He’s also a good student and he lives life to its fullest,” Jill said.

The effort to raise more than $5,000 was a true partnership, too. In addition to many donations by family and friends, a local business donated the use of a building and some of the items in it to the sale. There were also financial contributions made by many in honor of their loved ones.

When the family began planning a yard last summer, it was to be a typical, summertime yard sale.

But then Hunter pledged all the money to Wings.

As family members collected items for sale, word spread to friends and even strangers. Donated goods came piling in.

Hunter said this year’s yard sale was exhausting as they put in 8-hour days getting ready.

“I still can’t believe we raised that much in such a short time,” Hunter said. “We had $3,100 the first day and $2,100 the next. A lot of people are going to be able to use that money and it feels good.”

Hunter said he believes it will be an annual thing.

“It feels good helping people,” he said.

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