Southern Utah News Articles
Top Stories for October 15, 2020
Valley Volleyball's annual benefit honors Rawkee Hunt
“Every year our volleyball team chooses someone to do a benefit for,” begins coach Harmony Cox’s social media story. “It’s our favorite night of the year, yes, trumping even winning the big ones. Nothing brings a group together like service.”
In a serendipitously divine ‘chance’ encounter instigated by the not-to-be-denied insistence of Dustin and Harmony’s fifth-of-six daughters, Elisabeth (8), to go to their town’s Alton Park one Sunday afternoon, they met the Shay and Megan Hunt family of Kwinn (7), Rawkee (4) and Martina (2) on their way back to their Johnson Canyon home over the bench. As the youngsters excitedly hit the swings, Harmony noted how Rawkee’s “laughter and energy were contagious.” Then Megan shared ‘the rest of the story.’
On February 3, Shay (29) had been burning weeds, brush and debris along Johnson Canyon Road in anticipation of building a cattle-barrier fence for the Indian Cliffs Canyon Farm, where he’s employed as resident manager for the absentee owner. He was accompanied by Kwinn while Rawkee was sequestered in the pick-up waiting. As children often want to do, she went to where the action was happening. Although not burned by the actual fire, a sudden windburst blasted her face and right hand.
Coach Cox’s account continues, “Rawkee’s skin is not responding to the treatments like it should. Laser scar removal is resulting with the burned skin cells acting like cancer, in that they are mutating abnormally. Basically, the treatments are not working. The next option is extremely intense, and will take an approximate period of three to six months each year for the next eight, until she reaches puberty.
“The doctor’s will have to ‘balloon-grow’ the healthy skin around her face. Every couple days they will inject saline under the healthy skin to help it expand. They will remove every burned cell, careful not to miss any, because it could continue to mutate incorrectly. Then when the skin has grown enough, they will stretch it enough to cover her burned areas.
“Rawkee will have to move up north near the hospital. She’ll be unable to change elevation, which will require that she not travel during the process. Shay and Megan are expecting a new baby in December. They’re facing having to uproot, find housing big enough for their whole family, buy an additional car, school Kwinn, and have a newborn, etc. I can’t even imagine.”
The evening itself was a Happily Raucous Rawkee-eske event with vaudeville-burlesque entertainment provided after the first set by the notorious duo of Kelly Lamb and Joe Sorensen rockin’ to the original “Rocky” film, and inspired ballet-buffs James Hoyt and Robert Barrack, whose leaps and pirouettes to Enya’s “Only Time” were truly something to behold! All presentations were meticulously choreographed by Jenna Corry, of Red Rock Studios, with whom Rawkee has trained since she was two. Each dancer was immaculately adorned in Rawkee’s favorite attire of tutus, crowns, unicorn headbands, wings and wands. #dancelikerawkee
Following the second set, a Dutch auction was held by fast-talkin’ Duke Cox and his brother, coach Dustin. Some of the prizes consisting of a Valley sports-number themed quilt [Lamb Excavation won for $5,100], four hours of labor by the entire volleyball team was bid by the Bryce Zion Campground for $2,800, custom-made saddles won by John Huston and Coleman Sorenson for $1,550 and $1,500 respectively. All total, Dustin estimates around $12,000 was raised. Check contributions may be made out to Valley High School (VHS). Venmo donations can be sent to: @Megan-Hunt-48.
At the conclusion of the game’s three-straight set Valley victory (25-6, 25-19, 25-21) over Wayne, senior Captain Esther Cox reflected, “It was really cool to be part of something. Coach told us before the game: ‘You’re not gonna remember matches throughout your life, but when you do something like this, and our community comes together, you’re always gonna remember that. Knowing that you’ve changed a little girl’s life. And knowing that a community cares about her ... that’s gonna stick with you forever. Knowing that it’s more than volleyball; it’s life!’”
Immediately, with the crowd dispersing, the young family soon made their weary way to their car for the long midnight drive to Salt Lake to begin setting up for Rawkee’s 10th surgery, with an expected nearly 100 in the future. The next day Megan sent word: “Last night, we were truly surrounded by angels! Men and women, children and youth of various ages: all united in a common cause #fightlikerawke … our little girl!
“Having never left her side since her accident, and watching my baby girl literally fight for her life and recovery ... I can tell you first-hand, the energy and power in that gym last night matched the power inside Rawkee’s heart! She may not be able to completely comprehend all of the events of the evening, but I promise you, she will never forget the ‘feeling’ in her little heart! She told me ‘Mommy ... it felt like fire burning on the inside when all those people loved and cheered for me.’
“To a community who united for our Rawkee, we want you to know, you are the most Christ-like human beings we have ever had the privilege of knowing! The gift you gave will never be forgotten. And that gift is LOVE!”