East High School Student Defies Odds to Walk at Graduation

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Hunter Stoneburner was lifeless and paralyzed at age 16 but now he’s walking across the stage for his high school graduation.

“You never really notice how much you take life for granted until something gets taken away from you like this,” Hunter said.

The senior has defied the odds. After suffering a massive stroke just five days before his 17th birthday, doctors said he would likely never walk again.

Those words were lost on him.

“I told him, yeah I would, and that nothing is going to stop me,” Hunter said.

And it didn’t. Hunter defied the doctors and walked across the stage to receive his East High School diploma on Sunday evening.

His mother, Kristy Steltzer, was moved to tears.

“I`m excited, a lot of emotions going on,” Steltzer said. “Just thinking back to where he was, where he`s at now, and where he`s going to go.”

Hunter says it wasn’t an easy road.

“It was tough. There were a few times I wanted to give up but I never did because my mom was always telling me not to,” Hunter said.

He fell back on those in his corner during the journey.

“I have the biggest support team, everybody`s by my side, especially my parents,” Hunter said. “At school I have a lot of friends, everybody knows me. Everybody`s been telling me congratulations and they`re happy for me and everything.”

His family knows how much that support means.

“It was huge; if it wasn`t for everybody around him, I don`t think he would have gotten as far as he did,” Steltzer said. “I mean they were so positive and so supportive.”

As for the lifelong Cubs fan, he wants to go even further.

“Eventually, I`m going to try to get back to running and maybe play some more baseball,” Hunter said. “That`s what I`ve always wanted to do. It would mean everything to me actually. It would be the most exciting moment in my life after having my stroke.”

Hunter also plans on taking a few business classes at DMACC this upcoming semester and eventually wants to open his own business.

A GoFundMe account for Hunter’s college fund can be found by clicking here.

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