WHITE LAKE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — Back in October, a 9-year-old boy's life changed forever in a White Lake Township yard when Hunter Heater was mauled by two large dogs while playing at a friend's house.
Hunter was left severely wounded from head to toe, resulting in 75 lacerations requiring more than 200 stitches, as well as at least 40 staples to repair a fractured skull.
Since then, the family continues to face enormous medical bills. With the holidays around the corner, the community is coming together to make Christmas extra special for the Heaters.
That's where the White Lake Police Department step in. Every year they run an initiative called 'No Shave November,' and through the program, the officers give an adopted family the best Christmas ever.
"Christmas gifts, if they need assistance with food, we try to put together a whole Christmas dinner. Anyway, we can help is what we do," said Lt. Matthew Ivory.
This year the department has selected the Heater family.
Ivory says he is looking forward to making the holiday extra special for them.
"Our biggest goal in adopting in them was to take the burden of Christmas and trying to give their family a Christmas in the wake of this tragedy, take that burden off of them so that they can focus on him and his recovery," he said.
Since the attack, Hunter has been recovering well, but still has a long road ahead of him.
Hunter's parents say they are extremely grateful for the overwhelming support they've received from the community, especially with the mounting medical bills.
"We haven’t fully processed them all, we are still receiving more and there is still more to come depending on his emotional and counseling and therapy," said Tyler Heater, Hunter's dad.
Among other fundraisers, Rachel Hunter’s sister and brother-in-law have also set up a GoFundMe campaign, and as of today, they’ve raised over $23,000.
"We set the goal at $10,000 and we didn’t we would get that and for it to double... yeah it’s a lot," said Rachel Heater, Hunter's mother.
For the Heater family, Oct. 13 will be one day they will never forget, the knock that will always haunt them.
"He just kept asking if he was going to die? And I said no you are not going to die. And he is like no I'm going to die," said Rachel Heater, Hunter's mother.
Rachel and Tyler say since the attack, the White Lake Township Police department has been one of their biggest support systems, and being chosen as this year’s adopted family they have one more reason to celebrate Christmas this year.
"Honestly having my son here is the best Christmas, but just helping with Christmas presents and being able to get our kids stuff that we probably would not be able to do right now, is huge," said Rachel Heater, Hunter's mother.
Meanwhile, the White Lake Township Police department will continue to be on the lookout for helping people in need.
"Every story is unique, and not every family that gets adopted is born necessarily of a tragedy. There is a myriad of reasons why we would select a family that we would select," said Lieutenant Matthew Ivory, White Lake Township Police Department.
To contribute to this great cause, you can donate money at the White lake police station, or through the White Lake Police Foundation's PayPal account: www.paypal.com/paypalme/wlpfoundation