ANETA, N.D. -- From Aneta to Ashley, N.D., and in many places in between, and on either side, rural communities are rallying around UND football player Hunter Pinke.
Pinke, who was involved in a skiing accident in Colorado on Dec. 27, 2019, sustained spinal cord injuries and is paralyzed from the waist down. He was transferred in early January from a Denver Hospital to Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colo., where he is in rehabilitation therapy.
Pinke’s accident has generated an outpouring of prayers and financial support from high schools and communities, with numerous fundraisers held, under way or scheduled for later this winter.
Medina, (N.D.), Public School students, for example, held a hat days fundraiser and sold wristbands, and the Lakota (N.D.) Elementary Student Council is selling rubber ducks, with the proceeds to be sent to Pinke. Meanwhile, the Hatton-Northwood boys and girls basketball teams held fundraising events and sought donations at a Feb. 1 basketball doubleheader with Larimore, N.D.
On Saturday, Feb. 8, family and friends of Pinke’s in Aneta are hosting a meatball supper and silent auction. An online auction, organized by one of Pinke’s aunts, also will be held that day . Bidders can access the online auction at: https://www.32auctions.com/PinkeStrong
Mandy Kay Wentz, who lives in Aneta, organized the silent auction. Wentz’ parents and Pinke's grandparents are family friends, and the two have worked together harvesting crops and volunteering summers at the annual Aneta Turkey Barbecue, Wentz said.
Meanwhile, Wentz and Pinke both taught summer Bible school at Sundahl Lutheran Church in Aneta in 2019.
Pinke’s commitment to practicing his strong Christian faith -- he’s a UND Fellowship for Christian Athletes student leader -- has moved people, Wentz said.
“I think, especially, for high school students, he’s a pretty big role model for them,” said Wentz, adding Pinke’s unwavering faith in the midst of adversity has impressed youth and adults alike. “I think that’s a big thing for everybody."
Wentz has collected about 100 items for the silent auction Saturday, which will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday in the Aneta Community Center. Donations range from handmade crafts to loads of gravel, Wentz said.
There also is a separate online auction with items available to bid on Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight.
The meatball supper, which will be held in the Aneta Auditorium across the street from the community center, will include, besides the meatballs, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, coleslaw and dessert, said Janice Mills, event organizer.
“There are going to be about 35 people bringing dessert,” she said.
Along with the meatball supper, which will be a free will offering, there will be a bake sale.
It was easy finding volunteers to help with the fundraising events, Mills said.
“The whole community has turned out, and everybody has a job,” she said.