This article first appeared in Kidsburgh.org, a media partner of NEXTpittsburgh. Sign up here for Kidsburgh’s free newsletter filled with local resources and expert advice on raising healthy, thriving kids in southwestern PA.

Bloomfield resident Hunter Prosper is a TikTok star with 2.5 million followers … and zero ego. Through his channel, he asks local strangers to offer advice or share an uplifting story about themselves. The video series has touched a nerve with people around the world.

Prosper, a nurse at UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland, says it’s all part of the job.

“I got into this field because I wanted to help people,” says the 25-year-old. “I talk with them and make them feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation.”

@hunterprosper

important life lesson by Thomas and Sara #mentalheath #nurse

♬ Claire de Lune – Ave Maria

During an average 13-hour shift at UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland, he checks vital signs, performs CPR, draws blood for testing and tackles a host of other duties. But perhaps the most important thing he gives to his patients is a listening ear.

He hears about first loves, children and grandchildren, milestone moments and memories that generate smiles (and happy tears) throughout the hospital room. The conversations help him emotionally deal with the other patients in the ICU who, due to injury or illness, are unable or unwilling to speak.

Screenshot courtesy of Hunter Prosper.

Last February, the empathetic caregiver decided to share one of these tales on TikTok. With identifying details omitted, he condensed a single lifetime into a 45-second video.

It got 500,000 views right off the bat.

To date, he’s posted more than 100 segments that have generated half a billion clicks and countless comments from folks who are inspired by his project. Some of them have even started their own TikTok channels dedicated to spreading goodwill.

Prosper says his TikTok popularity has made him a better person, son, boyfriend and nurse.

He was raised by a single mother in Emporium, Pa., a small town in Cameron County. A lover of the written word, Prosper was planning to go to school for English, but his mom suggested he give the medical field a whirl.

He shadowed a registered nurse while enrolled in Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Nursing and Allied Health Professions. The empathetic student has a gentle bedside manner, along with the clinical remove needed to effectively treat people with horrific wounds or ailments.

He graduated in 2019 and has spent the majority of his short career on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s a lot of loss for one kind soul to process. TikTok gives the chatterbox an emotional outlet and an excuse to meet new people.

A few times a week he walks through his neighborhood and asks strangers questions ranging from “What is one dream you’ve accomplished?” to “What is something you loved to do as a kid?”

Most folks are grateful for the opportunity to share their thoughts, which often elicit raw emotion. If the subject ends up crying during the interview, Prosper turns off the iPhone camera and simply listens.

Sometimes, through a sponsorship with MasterCard, he purchases small gifts such as flower bouquets and hands them out to people on the street with no explanation. The expressions of joy he captures are priceless.

On a platform famous for dangerous challenges, viral trends and celebrity gossip, Prosper’s videos are proof that there is still good in the world.

Once COVID-19 is under control, he plans to travel across the country (and eventually the globe) to talk with people and share their experiences online. But for now, he feels his place is in the hospital here in Pittsburgh.

“I love what I do,” he says of his nursing job. “But I also want to let the world know that there is a beautiful, amazing story around every corner.”

@hunterprosper

Pass a note to a stranger, they might need it

♬ La Vie En Rose – Louis Armstrong

This article first appeared in Kidsburgh.org, a media partner of NEXTpittsburgh. Sign up here for Kidsburgh’s free newsletter filled with local resources and expert advice on raising healthy, thriving kids in southwestern PA.