Floyd local Hunter Keith, a 21-year old fleet technician in Montgomery County, lost his mother to breast cancer just a couple short years ago. Then, in November 2019, his girlfriend Hanna Curtis lost her father. “Hanna supported and loved Hunter through the pain, and Hunter subsequently returned the favor when Hanna lost her father,” Hanna’s sister Kristen Gardner wrote on a GoFundMe page, where she is raising money to help the two young adults navigate their latest joint tragedy: Hunter’s diagnosis with lymphoma.
In early January, Keith was admitted to Lewis-Gale Hospital with extreme stomach pain and for treatment of a small bowel obstruction. Further testing confirmed that the blockage was cancerous, and Keith was sent to the University of Virginia hospital to begin chemotherapy.
Far from being felled by this news, however, Keith, Curtis and the entire Floyd community sprung to action following the diagnosis. Gardner immediately launched a GoFundMe page aiming to raise $10,000 to “cover medical costs, cost of living, and whatever else they may face in the days to come.” Within 48 hours, the original fundraising goal had been met. Gardner increased the goal to $15,000, and as of press time, 199 people had donated to raise $13,893 for the young couple. Both Keith and Curtis have temporarily stepped away from their jobs to focus on Keith’s treatment.
“Hanna and Hunter have been dating a little over a year now,” Gardner said. “Both times (I met him), he was so sweet, kind to my sister, and caring—it was kind of like an immediate trust that I had with him,” she described. Gardner said when she got the call about Keith’s cancer diagnosis, her immediate instinct was to do anything she could to help.
“It was a shocker,” Gardner said, referring to the diagnosis. The memorial service for her own father, she said, was Jan. 18, and “that was the same week where Hunter got his diagnosis.” She explained that in fact, “Hanna missed the memorial service to be with Hunter, so there was a lot of emotion wrapped up in that, even though of course we were completely supportive of her going.”
Gardner, who lives in Virginia Beach, described the outpouring of support that she witnessed from both the Floyd community and others, as the fundraising campaign circulated widely on social media. “We met the goal in basically two days…and it’s been shared almost 3,000 times on social media,” Gardner said. “I had plenty of people contact me and say, ‘Can we donate and give it to them directly, to bypass GoFundMe?’ Even word-of-mouth has been a big thing,” Gardner continued.
As of late last week, Keith had been admitted to the hospital with an infection. Once he and Curtis are back home and settled, Gardner said, she plans to restart a meal train to provide free meals to the couple. “Be on the lookout,” Gardner said. She said that if the current fundraising goal of $15,000 is met, she’ll have to reevaluate the needs of Keith and Curtis. “I’m just trying to figure out how I can support them after we get a little more information about what they’re facing,” Gardner said.
Those interested in donating to the couple’s expenses can visit GoFundMe.com and search for “Hunter and Hanna.”