"My name is Hunt. What can be better than overlanding?" Hunt Hollis said. At only 8-years-old, the bright-eyed, eight-year-old boy certainly knows what it's like to travel a tough road; Hunt was born with mitochondrial disease.
Mitochondrial disease is an energy disorder that affects everyone differently. The mitochondria are responsible for over 90 percent of the energy needed by the body to sustain life and support organ function. For some, the disease affects the heart, or brain; causing seizures. In Hunt's case, the disease affects his gastrointestinal system. As a result, Hunt is small for his age.
His entire life, Hunt has been in feeding therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Doctors gave Mike and Ellen Hollis little hope that their son would ever walk. Today, Hunt is a walking example of beating the odds. Not only can he walk; he can run, dance, jump, and hike. "Hunt is not a statistic. He's going to do things we never thought he would," Ellen Hollis said.
In 2017, Hunt began to watch overlanding videos of Jeeps and rock crawling. After seeing Hunt's interest, "We decided adventure was for us," Mike Hollace said. Over the summer, the Hollis family took an overlanding trip from Yosemite to Mt. Hood. Most of it was off-road, with portions of the trip following the coast.
"Hunt really thrived in those three weeks," Ellen Hollis said. Hunt's vocabulary increased. His social skills grew as he faced the social aspect of meeting new people at campgrounds. According to his mother, Hunt really began to 'come out of his shell.' He even ate better on that trip than he ever had before.
On their trip, they were out of cell range so they had no choice but to turn off their cellphones. "It was the best thing our family has ever done," Ellen Hollis said. Overlanding gave the family a chance to disconnect from work, technology and the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Ellen Hollis said that through this trip, they learned most of all "to be completely present with each other."
"The purpose of Team Hunt Overland Adventure is to show that everybody, regardless of disability, or age, or status, can go adventure and that outdoors is great for everyone" Ellen Hollis said.
Learn more about Team Hunt at: http://teamhunt.org/