A request for KFC is a promising sign hit-and-run victim Jesse Minnell is making progress, but he still has a long way to go, a friend says.

The friend, Shayla Johnson, has set up a Givealittle page to help fund Minnell's recovery and support his dedicated family.

While visiting his home town of Whanganui on Saturday, the Palmerston North student, was walking home around 2am after spending the night catching up with friends, when he was struck by 61-year-old Michael Robert Pollard, who fled the scene.

Minnell was critically hurt and rushed to Whanganui Hospital and then airlifted to Wellington Hospital for specialist treatment.

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He was admitted to the intensive care unit, but had since been transferred to the neurology ward.

Pollard was unlicenced when he hit Minnell near the Red Lion Inn on Anzac Parade. He appeared in Whanganui District Court on Tuesday charged with one count of committing grievous bodily harm and one of driving while disqualified.

Pollard did not enter a plea at the hearing and was remanded on bail until November 15.

On the Givealittle page Johnson described her friend as "the kind of mate that is always happy to see you, loves to joke around and you never see him without a smile on his face".

Minnell's mum Cathy told the Herald this week she was relieved her son, who she affectionately called Jess, was recovering "better than expected".

"We are overwhelmed by the support from family and friends, but obviously our main focus is Jesse," she said.

Anyone wanting to donate to Minnell's recovery can do so at: givealittle.co.nz/cause/theminnellfamily#‚Äč