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Gunnison rallies behind teen with rare illness

Posted at 9:14 PM, Mar 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-07 23:25:05-05

GUNNISON, Utah – This small town is proving it has a big heart as the community rallies behind a teen fighting a rare illness.

Jackson “Jacko” Hill is a senior at Gunnison Valley High School. Before his illness, he starred on the school’s basketball and track teams.

He has a condition called spinal meningioma that causes tumors to grow on his spine.

He’s battled the condition for five years. Recently, the tumors took away Jacko’s ability to walk.

“Jackson is one tough dude. He’s the toughest guy I know,” said Ben Hill, Jacko’s father.

The community is showing Jacko, he isn’t alone in this fight. Hundreds of items, worth thousands of dollars were donated for a benefit auction. The funds raised will help Jacko’s family with his healthcare costs.

“We live in a great place, my friend,” said Dan Balley, one of the organizers of the benefit. “Just since we have been talking to you, I have had two texts. Two donations over $1000.”

The items will be auctioned at a benefit dinner on Saturday evening. The show of support isn’t lost on Jacko and his family.

“It’s actually amazing, the support we have received,” said Megan Hill, Jacko’s mom. “If you had asked me 20 years ago if I would be raising my children in a community this small, I would have told you, you were crazy. But, this is exactly where I want to raise my kids.”

“I think it’s pretty cool,” Jacko said. “I take pride in knowing that’s where I come from.”

The items were donated by neighbors, friends and even strangers. A town with a population of less than 4,000 is pulling off a major fundraising effort that would rival, and possibly surpass the efforts of a big city.

“They want to meet him. They want to support him even though they don’t know him,” Megan said.

The money raised will help with the huge medical costs. The outpouring of love shows Jacko the community is in his corner as he fights to overcome the tumors.

Nobody is doubting this athlete’s ability to beat the disease and walk again.

“When I was healthy, I was always the kind of kid to push myself and be better in whatever sport it was,” Jacko said.

A fund has been set up at the State Bank of Southern Utah to help Jacko and his family. Donations can be made to the “Fighting with Jacko” account. People can also donate through Venmo at “Fightingwith-Jacko.”