Surprise, surprise: Family rallies to honor Hunter Hunnicutt

By Jim Lahde,

Originally published by The Morning Sun

Hunnicutt pinning ceremony
Jennifer Badour, a registered nurse in mid-Michigan, pinned her younger sister Hunter Hunnicutt to welcome her into the nursing profession Friday in Rosebush. (Sun Photo by JIM LAHDE)


She didn’t see it coming.

Then, suddenly out of nowhere, there was a 40-car parade parading in front of her house with signs that read, “Congratulations, Hunter.” Moreover, there were also bouquets of flowers and cards of congratulations and wrapped gifts, all arriving unannounced and unplanned for in front of the house of stunned Rosebush resident Hunter Hunnicutt.

Several hours removed from finishing her final day of college at Mid Michigan College Hunnicutt was ready to relax at home on Friday evening when a parade and party broke out in her front yard. The 2016 Montabella High School graduate had just put the finishing touches on her nursing degree when her family and friends arrived.

The look on her face as the police cars and family cars and fire trucks drove by told her story. Hunter was completely surprised, which is the point of a surprise party right?

“It’s a huge surprise, I had no idea,” said Hunnicutt following the festivities. “I was just told to not look out the windows until 6pm (Friday). I thought we were just going to go for a ride in the jeep."

“I love my family, they’re amazing people. I can’t thank them enough for everything they do for me.”

For the past couple weeks members of Hunnicutt’s family had been planning and conspiring to have a celebration for Hunter. Yet, what to do?

As it stands Mid Michigan College’s commencement ceremony was cancelled earlier this spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Having just finished her nursing degree Hunter was supposed to be a part of a pinning ceremony Saturday, where a registered nurse pins her and welcomes her into the profession.

But because of the pandemic that just wasn’t in the cards in 2020, thus her family took it into their own hands.

Older sister Jennifer Badour, who earned her nursing degree from at Indiana State in December, did the honor of pinning her younger sister on Friday evening in front of 40-plus family and friends. For Badour it was something that needed to be done and she was more than happy to do it.

“She has worked so hard for so long, she has earned this and she deserves this,” said Badour. “She was devastated when she found out she wouldn’t be pinned (because Saturday’s commencement ceremonies were cancelled). She would never say that, but you could tell when you spoke with her that this was something she was looking forward to."

“Nursing school is very difficult to get through, it’s tough and beyond anything I have ever put myself through. I knew she was going to ask me to present her with her pin and to miss that opportunity broke my heart for her and for me. So, we took it into our own hands.”

For the family as a whole the event was a much-needed diversion for obvious reasons.

For sisters Hunter and Jennifer it’s also significant in that they are following in the footsteps of their grandmother Darlene, who was a nurse in mid-Michigan for years.

“That’s amazing too, I’m carrying on the tradition,” said Hunter with a smile.

For Hunter’s and Jennifer’s mother, Tammy Jeffrey, Friday’s parade and ensuing celebration was the perfect Mother’s Day gift.

“Mom was a nurse and now my daughters are nurses,” said Jeffrey, trying her best to hold back the tears. “I’m so proud of them both. We lost mom at too early of an age, she was 59. These two girls remind me so much of her. She would be so proud.”

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