Hunter Hawken doesn't know it yet but his lone wish in a world that has dealt him some cruel blows is about to be granted.
The Oak Flats 13-year-old was born with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, an incurable disease that is gradually robbing him of his movement and independence.
While life expectancy for the severe muscle-wasting disorder is late teens to early twenties, Hunter would rather focus on helping others than bring attention to his own struggles.
When he was 11 he shaved his head and became the top fundraiser for a cause that had nothing to do with his own illness.
"He's a very sweet, kindhearted, humble person," said Emma Kearns, whose brother Josh Kearns recently married Hunter's mum, Bec.
"A lot of children with this illness die in their late teens and Hunter's one wish - and he doesn't ask for much, actually he never asks for anything - was a service dog.
"Which is why we started fundraising, to be able to give this little boy with the biggest heart his wish, when all he does is try to fulfill other people's wishes."
Emma set up a GoFundMe page to raise the money to pay for a purebred Labrador puppy, which will cost around $4000.
The family decided not to tell Hunter about their plan in case the public appeal fell flat, but the online fundraising effort has so far yielded $3780.
Happily, this means they can now start the search for a suitable pup.
The next step will be raising a further $30,000 to train the Labrador to become a service dog - working animals that help those with physical disabilities move around and be more independent.
But what Hunter really wants in a cuddly canine is a best friend.
"Hunter has just started high school and he's found it quite challenging to find new friends so this companion dog will give him a lifelong friend, someone who will be by his side," Emma said.
"It will also give him a bit of independence while he still has that because in time he will eventually lose all movement in his body.
"When I met Hunter about four years ago, he was able to walk by himself and still have a bit of independence.
"But now he isn't able to walk, and needs assistance with toileting and getting into the shower, so in four years he has deteriorated quite rapidly."
For now, the family can't wait to surprise Hunter with his new four-legged friend.
"We are so excited and nervous, my husband and I can barely hold it in," his mother Bec Kearns said. "He will be in shock and so ecstatic."
To donate, please visit Help Hunter purchase a service companion dog.
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