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Jason Olson, Deseret News
Mindy Carter-Shaw, center, hugs Zach Kelling, left, and Jenna Jarvis in front of her Orem home Tuesday.

OREM — The colorful sign taped in the living-room window is visible from the street: "Get Better Soon Bridger."

A few blocks away, Jenna Jarvis and her friends Maddie James and Zach Kelling guard a bucket full of dollars, quarters, nickels and pennies: $12.07 they raised from selling lemonade, Kool-Aid and snow cones.

Another friend's mom is keeping track of the $418 that they gathered by going door-to-door — all to help their friend, Bridger Hunt.

Nearly two weeks ago on July 24, 11-year-old Bridger was playing outside his grandparents' house in Lehi when a homemade firework exploded, blowing out chunks of skin and muscle from his left side and nearly severing his left leg.

He's been in Primary Children's Medical Center ever since, drifting in and out of consciousness, sometimes flailing and struggling because of the pain and confusion.

Tuesday, doctors put him back into a coma for at least a week, to

keep his heart rate and blood pressure at safe levels, said his mother, Mindy Carter-Shaw.

"So he's going to live for sure?" 12-year-old Jenna asked Carter-Shaw during a visit to her Orem home Tuesday.

"I feel like he's going to live for sure," Carter-Shaw said, but added that the doctors can't promise her that yet. They're still looking for infections that might be causing her son's heart to race, his blood pressure to skyrocket and his temperature to hover in the hundred-degree levels — all now calmed by the coma.

It's the first time the kids have heard such direct news about their friend.

Their bubbly personalities mellowed as they listened to Carter-Shaw point to her side, describing where the shrapnel ripped through Bridger and how his leg was attached only by a flap of skin.

"Will he be able to walk, will we have to push him in a wheelchair?" Jenna asked.

"Bridger will never walk (normally) again," Carter-Shaw said. "He might figure out the skateboard thing again. It will be different than before."

He's a lefty — the leg that was injured, she explained. But Bridger, who dreamed of being a pro skateboarder, had told his mom he could skate with either foot forward.

"When can we come visit him?" Zach, 12, asked quietly.

"He's in the coma, it'll be best if you visit him when he's awake," she told them.

"I can't wait to see him again," Jenna said.

"When he's awake I'm going to come up so much," Zach added.

Carter-Shaw was only home for a brief rest. She spends most of her days at the hospital or in a camper parked nearby.

"We're trying to make it, recoup, so when he's awake we can be as strong as we all need to be," she said, then hugged the kids, telling them she loved them. And even though Bridger can't talk, she told them she knows he's grateful for what they're doing.

The weary mom also promised the kids she would see them Thursday at the barbecue fundraiser they've helped to organize at the Bonneville Park on 1450 N. 800 West in Orem, from 5 to 9 p.m.

"You guys are doing a super awesome job with everything," she said. "His life is going to be completely changed, but (we're going to) make it so cool for him."

Shelly Oberg is organizing the fundraiser because her daughter Kaeli, 12, is another good friend of Bridger and Jenna.

They're hoping for at least 1,000 people to come eat, play carnival games, listen to a band and bid at a silent auction — all in hopes of raising $5,000 for Bridger's family, which is being overwhelmed by medical bills.

"I'm just amazed at how much support everyone is willing to (give)," Oberg said. "I hope this benefit can help out his parents a little bit, and let them know how many people out there are really concerned. I don't think they have any idea."

It's no surprise to Jenna and Zach how many friends Bridger has. He's the funny kid in school everyone knows.

Jenna said she first met Bridger in second grade, but they didn't really bond until fourth grade.

They spent their summers skateboarding and roasting marshmallows in his backyard and sledding and snowboarding in the winter.

"He's a good kid, he needs his leg," Jenna said. "I can't picture him not skateboarding. It means a lot to him."

She grins as she talks about how one time they were sledding and he brought his snowboard and went off a jump and nearly broke his leg when he landed.

"He's fun to hang out with," she said. "He's a daredevil."

That's how best friend Zach described Bridger too.

"He's funny," Zach said. "He just does so many funny things, daredevil things."

Whether it's swinging like Tarzan from a rope in his backyard, catching thrown food in his mouth or cramming himself and Zach into a child seat on a bike pedaled by a friend — Bridger is up for anything.

But his friends couldn't remember any broken bones. Or any real injuries before now. Bridger is tough, they said.

So when another friend called Jarvis Jenna the day after the accident to say Bridger was in the hospital, she didn't believe it.

"He's not in the hospital," Jarvis Jenna said, quoting her reaction. "He's so tough, that couldn't happen to him."

After checking news sites on the Internet, the truth sunk in and Jarvis Jenna said she started crying.

"Bridger's the type type of kid that if someone was rude to you, he'd stick up for you," Jenna said.

"He's a really caring, giving kid," Jenna's dad, Jonathan, added. He reminds his daughter about the iDog Bridger gave her last Christmas — an electronic pet that dances to music and doubles as a mini speaker for an iPod.

Bridger is also a good older brother to his 7-year-old sister Timberlyn, whom they call Timmi, Jenna said.

The friends talk about starting school in a few weeks and what it will be like when Bridger doesn't come with them. He's expected to be in Primary Children's Medical Center for months.

"He's going to be in the hospital on his birthday," Jenna said, then turned quizzically to her friends. "Will they let him eat cake?"

Cake or no cake, the friends all plan to be there Aug. 22, when Bridger turns 12.

They just hope he'll be awake to greet them.

Ways to contribute:

• Attend the fundraiser Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. at Bonneville Park, 1450 N. 800 West in Orem.

• Make a donation to the Bridger Nathaniel Hunt fund at any branch of Zions Bank or Central Bank.

E-mail: [email protected]