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Local 'Kid Nation' star gets gold star

Posted: Sunday, December 02, 2007

Hunter Jeffers earned himself a gold star.

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But not in his seventh-grade classroom at Riverside Middle School or his Martinez home for finishing chores.

Hunter, 13, earned the gold star -- and $20,000 -- in a Wednesday episode of Kid Nation , a CBS reality show that follows 39 children operating their own society in the New Mexico ghost town Bonanza City.

"We're almost speechless, we're extremely humbled," Hunter's mother, Dawn Jeffers, said Thursday.

The gold star is awarded weekly by the town council of his peers to someone who has worked hard for the benefit of the secluded community of children. The award also comes with $20,000, which Jeffers said will go toward Hunter's college, his church and a splurge for the soft-spoken teen.

Jeffers said 150 friends gathered at their home to watch the episode, not knowing Hunter was the show's star.

"It was a huge party," Jeffers said, adding that friends and family were very encouraging after Hunter left March 31 to join the cast for the 40-day experience. "It was a great way to bring everybody together."

In Wednesday's episode, Hunter worked hard hauling water and other tasks to keep Bonanza City alive, while most of his castmates enjoyed the newly opened arcade.

Hunter's sling-shot skills were instrumental in helping his team win the showdown, which was a pop quiz about Bonanza City history. The kids had to shoot and pop balloons bearing incorrect answers to the multiple choice questions.

"Both of his grandfathers are claiming they taught him how to use that sling-shot," Jeffers said.

Everyone at the Jeffers party brought canned goods to be donated to Golden Harvest Food Bank, and the Jeffers raised more than $150 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation by raffling off CBS Bonanza City T-shirts. Jeffers said the Make-A-Wish Foundation was Hunter's choice as he recently lost a friend who had her wish realized through the foundation.

In the end, Jeffers said she is very proud of her son, and watching him get the award on television was a once-in-a-lifetime event.

"I can't even express how truly grateful we are," Jeffers said. "We couldn't have been any prouder."



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