With just 140 characters, Verizon customer Hunter Radenslaben regularly captures the attention of thousands of weekend warriors, professional athletes and big name sports brands like Under Armour and Russell…all through the help of technology.
The 16-year-old is the voice behind @AthleteNationCo, a Twitter account that spreads inspirational messages to sports enthusiasts across the country. The account has amassed more than 64,000 followers – nearly 25 times the population of Hunter’s hometown of Waverly, NE.
Now a two-sport student athlete at Waverly High School, Hunter started Athlete Nation just before he entered the eighth grade.
“Throughout my entire seventh-grade school year, I remember praying and praying every night that I didn't want to just live a normal life, I wanted to leave a mark on this world, and I wanted to make a difference in people's lives in any way that I could,” Hunter explained. “I don't think it's a coincidence that I'm now impacting millions of people.”
Initially, Hunter kept the account anonymous. But when he reached 10,000 followers, he shared the news with one, very special person – his mom, Taina.
“I showed her the positive and uplifting tweets I posted, and I remember her being in tears because of how proud she was,” Hunter says. “That's something I'll never forget. My mom was someone who I told everything to. She was my biggest supporter with everything that I did, no matter what she was going through.”
And she was going through a lot. After several bouts with cancer, Taina passed away shortly before Hunter started high school.
“My mom had more strength than anyone I’ve known, and she had a strong faith to the very end,” Hunter recalls. “Anyone who had the pleasure of knowing my mom knew the inspiration that she was, and I think that really has kept me going with my AthleteNationCo account. “
With a logo, trademark and website in development, Hunter is setting his sights on the future. He’s taking business classes and networking with people who can help him achieve his goal of turning Athlete Nation into a company, offering athletic apparel and sports camps.
While he’s seen many changes since he first started his Twitter account, Hunter’s mission remains the same: to make a difference and inspire as many people as he possibly can.
“I want people to be able to take something away from my tweets that they can't get from other accounts,” Hunter says. “I want people to have a stronger faith in themselves, in God and in everything they do because of the things I post.”
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