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Mesa family who adopted 5 children honors Kent Dana

After they were featured in a story, Dana developed a soft spot for the Hunt family and kept in touch with their progress over the years.

MESA, Ariz. — As family and friends of the late Kent Dana hold a celebration of life in his honor, a Mesa family is remembering the TV anchor for the unique role he played in their lives.

“Without Kent Dana and ‘Wednesdays Child’ I wouldn’t have my kids,” said Cindy Hunt, a mother of five.

Dana passed away last month at the age of 80.

During his tenure at 12 News, one of his passion projects was reporting on adoption and foster care through the Wednesday’s Child program, supported by Aid to Adoption of Special Kids (AASK).

The Hunt Family’s adoption journey began in 1990.

“We watched Wednesday’s Child and all of the sudden my husband said, ‘well why don’t we do that?’ And I was like, OK,” Cindy said.

RELATED: Kent Dana, the voice and face of Valley news for 30 years, passes away

They adopted Harry and Esther, who are half-siblings. A couple of years later, the couple adopted two brothers, Christopher and Joseph, who were featured on a Wednesday’s Child segment with the Phoenix Suns.

“[Kent Dana] said in the story ‘I really hope we can keep them together.’ I looked at my husband and said, ‘so they would separate brothers?’ and he said, ‘I guess.’ And I said we can’t do that,” Cindy said.

Dana developed a soft spot for the Hunt family and kept in touch with their progress over the years.

“He was very kind to us. He would send us Circus tickets. He followed up with stories about us and he loved to play with our children, even after the cameras stopped rolling,” Cindy said.

Then in 1998 Dana called Cindy and told her to watch that evening’s Wednesday’s Child segment.

“He called to tell me about this little boy Isaac, who was coming up that night and he said, ‘Cindy I’m not pushing you, but you need to look at him,'” Cindy said.

Two months later the family adopted Isaac.

“Then I called Kent and said, no more, we’re full,” Cindy said, laughing.

The five children are all grown up and leading their own lives.

“These are the parents that showed us love, affection, kindness when they didn’t need to. We were a choice and we were a challenge that they rose to and met,” said Isaac Hunt.

Their father Dennis died from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Dennis was a volunteer coach for his kids and “the cornerstone” of the family, Isaac said.

When asked whether she would advise adoption to others, Cindy says being an adoptive parent is full of ups and downs, just like the experience of biological parents.

“The elementary school age years were a blast. Dennis and I would meet in parking lots and shift kids, going to baseball games and special Olympics or wherever we had to go,” Cindy said. “Teen years were challenging for some of my kids, not all of them. But they are challenging for biological kids as well, right?”

Cindy says it helped to have a friend who was an expert in child development.

“She was on speed dial with me all the time,” Cindy said. “I would do it again and I would encourage everybody interested to do it because there are so many kids out there.”

RELATED: 12 News anchor Mark Curtis to be inducted into state's Broadcasters Hall of Fame

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