Bridger Hunt, the 11-year-old Orem boy gravely injured by homemade fireworks, continues to improve, according to a family update provided Wednesday.

Bridger turns 12 on Friday.

"He is more alert now, and although his condition is listed as critical and he still has a breathing tube in place, he is not as heavily sedated as he once was," according to the boy's great-aunt, Debi Richan. She said he's smiled and squeezed hands to answer questions. While he has asked to see his ribs and chest, he has not yet asked about his leg, which surgeons have worked hard to save.

Infection has been a problem but seems to be diminishing, she said. And he no longer has a neck brace, so he can now move his head.

He seems to have "some vague memory of the explosion," she said, but not details. And he's unaware of the extent of his injuries.

Richan also warned that someone has been raising money on "Bridger's behalf" without the knowledge or endorsement of the family and none of that money has benefited the boy. His family is asking people who want to donate to go through the family to avoid being scammed. Richan can be reached at [email protected].