OBITUARY

Hunter Anthony Ellzey

May 1, 2000May 8, 2018
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Hunter Anthony Ellzey was born May 1, 2000 Winter Park, FL and passed away peacefully May 8, 2018 in Orlando, FL.

After a complicated birth, Hunter faced a life full of medical difficulties, but was lovingly cared for in his own home by a dedicated team of nurses, teachers, and therapists. His doctors and medical team were second-to-none. Despite so many physical limitations, Hunter impacted the hearts and lives of hundreds of people. He felt the presence of every visitor, listened and responded to familiar caring voices, and would reach out with his hand to feel the compassionate love being shown to him. Hunter could not see or speak, but he still managed to teach so many life lessons to all those who knew him. Hunter had his own timeline and did things his own way... he defied the odds and broke all the rules.

His parents are eternally grateful to everyone that participated with them in Hunter's life, supported their undying love for him, and for all who cared for this special boy.

Hunter's 18 years on this Earth will never be forgotten and the love his parents, family, nurses, and friends have given him well never wane. Thank you, Hunter, for blessing the world with your presence...

In lieu of flowers, PLEASE consider making a donation to the Russell Home for Atypical Children here in Orlando, Florida. They are a privately run and privately funded HOME that cares for children and adults like Hunter... We have supported them for years and ask if you do anything, to please consider making a donation in his memory to the Russell Home.

https://www.russellhome.org/

Click the DONATE button towards the Upper right and then choose the Fund "In Memoriam" and enter Hunter Anthony Ellzey.

Services

  • Memorial Service Saturday, June 2, 2018
REMEMBERING

Hunter Anthony Ellzey

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Amanda Foster

May 12, 2018

Always in my heart

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Biography

The Journey of Hunter Anthony Ellzey
…In the words of his father

18 years ago, on May 1st, 2000 Susan and I had an unexpectedly early delivery. On that day, we lost what was supposed to be our perfect son. Instead, we were given an imperfect baby boy, we named Hunter Anthony, whom would take us on a different path… a path we never anticipated… a path we didn’t know how to navigate…

Our life changed… our family’s lives changed… and we embarked on a new adventure with this little boy. On this 18-year long journey, Hunter would teach his Mother and me many things… compassion… patience… unconditional love… fighting for what was right and what was needed… and how to advocate for those that could not fight for themselves.

Hunter spent 10 weeks struggling to survive in the neonatal intensive care unit at Arnold Palmer Hospital… during that stay, a nurse pulled us aside. I remember her words clearly… “This never should have happened. Please have someone look into the incidents surrounding his birth and remember to fight for him. You will have many doors slammed in your face… many denials from insurance companies… many people telling you that he can’t have this, or shouldn’t get that… you will need to be his advocate… you will need be his eyes and ears… you will need to speak for Hunter and you will need to learn to fight for him. Never accept No as an answer.”

His mother took those words very seriously… and over the last 18 years, Susan became the fiercest Momma bear any little helpless cub could ever ask for. Nothing would stand in her way… she made sure that Hunter had what he needed, when he needed it. Even if it took every last ounce of effort, she found a way to fight for him. Hunter was always safe and protected by his Momma bear.

Hunter encountered many travelers during our journey… the most notable of which were his home nurses and caregivers. Without their love and dedication to both Hunter and our family, the journey would have been near impossible to navigate…. Adene, Debbie, Leisa, Amanda, Wilfredo and countless others cared for and loved Hunter as if he were their very own child and made sure he was clean, comfortable, and most importantly loved. We appreciate their personal sacrifice and the sacrifice of their very own families to allow them to care for Hunter, every Day and every Night, and during every holiday.

A true testament to their phenomenal care was the fact that Hunter was rarely hospitalized. We would often go years without a visit or admission to the hospital. One stretch lasted 5 years. When we brought him to the hospital, a nurse remembered Hunter (being that he was such a unique and memorable kid) and remarked something long the line of, “Wow! You haven’t been here in five years… it’s been so long, we naturally assumed that something had happened to Hunter. It’s amazing, despite his complexities, that you aren’t here more often. Your caregivers are obviously doing something right!”. And they were correct!

Hunter and Miss Adene, his longest-serving nurse had a special bond like no other… he would miss her when she was away during vacation or medical leave… and expressed excitement in his own unique way when she returned. Hunter could never speak; you could tell he was happy when he heard Miss Adene’s voice. No one, not even his own parents, could spiffy him up and make him look so well groomed and handsome, like Miss Adene. She just had a way with him… We jokingly said she would give him a wash, wax, and oil change and he always looked perfect. Susan and I will be forever grateful for her service, as well as the love and service by his entire nursing team.

His doctors, dentist, respiratory therapists, medical supply company, and office support staff always made sure Hunter was a priority and got the medical care and equipment and supplies he needed. We lost track of the thousands of prescriptions carefully compounded by the pharmacists over the years, and the dozens of pickups we had to perform each week. This boy relied upon so many people to contribute to his well-being. Thank you for all working together to help supply him for his journey.

When Hunter was about a year and a half, Susan would take him to a group therapy session at a United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) facility. It was at UCP that we met Miss Ana, who would eventually become Hunter’s teacher. Miss Ana spent nearly every Saturday coming to the house and teaching him… They worked on colors, letters, numbers, animals, state capitals, tactile sensations, and music therapy. Together Hunter and his special teacher worked on countless arts and craft projects using Hunter’s very own hands and fingers. I’m not sure how she didn’t run out of so many creative ideas… Recently, we discussed “graduation”. She proclaimed that Hunter was now 18 years old and she felt we should have a graduation ceremony for him. Miss Ana had even bought him a little cap and gown. Sadly, she wasn’t able to have that ceremony for him that they worked so hard together to get to.

Hunter was always a fighter… the first three days his little body was nearly shut down from his birth trauma. We remember at the 72-hour mark, his little body was so swollen because his kidneys weren’t functioning. He had barely peed a few ounces since he was born. His doctors told us that if his kidneys didn’t come back online soon, Hunter would pass away from the increasing levels of toxicity in his body. His great-aunt Kathy was visiting him with me in the NICU, and during that visit, he started to pee… and he peed and peed and kept peeing. His kidneys were working! I don’t think anyone was every so excited to see their little boy peeing!

After coming home, Hunter would struggle to breathe, eventually need a trach placed, which was the first of many difficult decisions Susan and I would have to make regarding his medical care… each decision taxing our minds… were we doing the right thing? were we going too far? But we always knew and felt what we were doing was right for Hunter and he would continue on his journey for as long as HE deemed necessary.

Many of you don’t know, but we came close to losing him last fall. Susan and I were visiting Tennessee with a dear friend to witness the eclipse, when we got a notification that 9-1-1 had been called at our house around 8pm. Hunter was very ill and had been rushed via ambulance to the ER. By 10:00pm, his Nurse Amanda (who was with him in the ER) told us we should drive home immediately… and she would do her best to make sure he stuck around until we got to see him one last time. After 12 hours of driving through the night, we made it to the hospital. After three days we were given dire news by his medical team… Hunter wasn’t expected to survive… and we were instructed to take him home with hospice to pass away.

Over the years, I would jokingly say that Hunter inherited his stubbornness from his Mother... and that this trait was not necessarily a bad thing. Hunter traveled his path and his journey according to his own unique plan… no one really knew what that plan was… After coming home with Hospice, Hunter decided to stick around and once again, prove his doctors wrong… He gave us another 9 months to love him, and for his nurses to provide him with extraordinary care in his own home, with his dogs sleeping at the foot of his own bed, and comforting familiar sounds that made him feel safe.

On the morning of May 8th, 1 week after turning 18 years old, Hunter decided that his journey needed to come to an end… His passing was quick and unexpected, and he was at home surrounded by his Nurse Debbie, his Momma bear and father by his side.

We want to thank everyone that supported us in caring for Hunter during his short life. What an amazing journey he took us all on and we thank everyone for experiencing that journey with him.

We especially want to thank our family for their love and understanding of the way we needed to care for Hunter… for changing the way we needed to be as a family, and for always celebrating holidays and family functions at hour house so we could celebrate with Hunter too.

Our lives will never be the same without him. Hunter defined us, and it will be a new struggle and a new journey to figure out how to continue on without him.

We love you, Hunter