Seventeen and a junior in high school, Blake Hunt’s whole life lay ahead of him. He dreamed of playing football and going to college to study graphic design with web and video game applications. All those dreams were shattered with one tackle in September 2007.
Hunt broke a vertebra in his neck, which left him paralyzed. Since that day, life has been hard for the now 20-year-old who lives in a Bronx nursing home because he has no money and no family to care for him. Hunt also has had to make do with a manual wheelchair that does not afford him the independence he needs.
But his mode of transportation is about to change. Later this month, he will receive a new $30,000 power wheelchair from The Darrell Gwynn Foundation that will provide Hunt the mobility necessary to help him make a life of his own.
Hunt’s journey to his “new set of wheels” is a story in itself that features former NFL player and professional wrestler Bill Goldberg. When Goldberg was in New York participating in this season’s Celebrity Apprentice, he learned about Hunt and his wheelchair situation.
“As an ex-football player, I immediately connected with Blake and what had happened,” Goldberg said. “It was hard to fathom everything Blake had gone through and I remember thinking he deserves better.”
So Goldberg reached out to his longtime friend Darrell Gwynn. A former National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Champion driver, Gwynn himself is paralyzed from the chest down following a racing accident 20 years ago. Through the ongoing generosity of its donors, The Darrell Gwynn Foundation was able to provide Hunt with the custom motorized chair he requires in order to start college in the fall.
“As a fighter who takes nothing for granted, Blake’s story is very touching,” said Gwynn, who established his foundation after his own tragic accident. “Despite all that he’s been through, Blake has put the misfortune and injury behind him to become a warm, outgoing young man. We are thrilled that we can give him the gift of mobility so he may pursue his dream of a college education.”
Hunt will receive his new wheelchair June 23 during the YearOne and Hot Rodders Children’s Charity Poker Tournament being held at the John Force Racing Facility in Yorba Linda, CA All proceeds from the $1,000-per-player tournament will benefit The Darrell Gwynn Foundation.
The event, which will be a prelude to the inaugural Orange County 2010 Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction in Costa Mesa, CA, will include silent and live auctions with a variety of unique items up for bid. For more information or to enter the Poker Night Tournament, email .
It promises to be an exciting excursion for a young man from Beth Abraham nursing home in the Bronx. In addition to receiving a new custom wheelchair, Hunt will be treated to a week of special activities and events in Southern California, courtesy of Goldberg.
During the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction later that week (June 25-27) at the Orange County Fair & Events Center, The Darrell Gwynn Foundation will benefit from the sale of two unique vehicles donated by collector Ron Pratte. Lot # 386 is an exceptional Limited Edition 2008 Barrett-Jackson Shelby GT Mustang autographed by the stars from American Idol. The second car being sold (lot # 386.1) is the Darrell Gwynn Coors Extra Gold dragster show car that already has fetched $550,000 at two previous Barrett-Jackson events and was given back to The Foundation to sell again.
The two cars are expected to be sold between 5 and 7 p.m. PDT on Saturday, June 26 and The Foundation will give away another wheelchair prior to auctioning them.
About Darrell Gwynn Foundation
The Darrell Gwynn Foundation is a Davie, Fla.-based non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization established by former National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) champion Darrell Gwynn to support individuals with spinal cord injuries and other debilitating illnesses. The Foundation’s mission is to provide awareness, prevention, support, and ultimately a cure for paralysis. To expedite specific cures, The Foundation assists in the funding of targeted research. The Foundation has raised more than $3 million to help provide long-term health services for spinal cord injury patients, fund paralysis research and education, and present custom wheelchairs to deserving recipients since its creation.