Hunter’s Hope was established in 1997 by Pro Football Hall of Fame Member and former Buffalo Bills Quarterback, Jim Kelly and his wife Jill, after their infant son, Hunter (2/14/97—8/5/05) was diagnosed with Krabbe Leukodystrophy, an inherited fatal nervous system disease. When the Kellys welcomed their only son, Hunter, into the world on February 14, 1997— Valentine’s Day and Jim’s birthday— they knew he was destined for something extraordinary.
At first, Hunter seemed to be a perfectly healthy infant. However, in the weeks that followed, he grew extremely irritable, and as things grew worse, the Kellys sought answers to relieve their son’s pain. After an exhaustive battery of tests, a leading pediatric neurologist, Dr. Patricia Duffner, shared the devastating news:
“Your son has been diagnosed with a fatal genetic disease called Krabbe Leukodystrophy. There is no treatment for the disease and no cure. The average life expectancy for babies diagnosed with infantile Krabbe is fourteen months. Hunter will probably not live to see his second birthday. We can help you make your son more comfortable, but…”
While dealing with Hunter’s diagnosis and arranging for his extreme medical needs, the Kelly family became keenly aware that there were other families dealing with the same devastating news, and they knew there would be more. With their newfound knowledge of this horrible disease, God ignited a spark of hope in the hearts of Jim and Jill. Children like Hunter were courageously fighting for every breath and desperately needed help. Something had to be done.
On August 5, 2005, after eight courageous years, Hunter went to heaven. Having far exceeded doctors’ expectations for a child with early infantile Krabbe, Hunter exemplified determination, grace, bravery and joy throughout his brief life.
The Kelly family’s passion and dedication to carry out the Foundation’s mission remains strong. In Hunter’s honor, the Kellys continue their commitment to provide hope to suffering children and their families.
While Jim and Jill have been blessed with the opportunity to share Hunter’s story and the hope of the Foundation named after their son all over the world, their greatest passion is to bring encouragement and hope to families in the midst of suffering.