Monday, June 25, 2012

Meet Austin … 

Austin is an amazing young boy from Tea, SD. More than two years ago this little boy lost his arms and legs to a rare form of bacterial meningitis. OUR GOAL is to raise enough money for the family to build a handicap accessible home for him! Can you help?

Austin's mother, Heather Coffee is a single mother of two boys, Chance and Austin and she also has  helped raise her niece, Ashley who has lived with them for the past four years.  Heather works at Chili’s Restaurant in Sioux Falls, about 15 minutes from her hometown of Tea.  If  being a single mom of three and working full time wasn’t hard enough,  her son, Austin became terribly sick in 2009, within days he was diagnosed with a rare form of meningitis. So rare, there is an average of just four cases a year in the United States. Doctors in Sioux Falls, SD knew within a few hours that Austin would be facing amputations. On Oct. 31, 2009 Austin and his mother were flown to Cincinnati where he underwent surgery at the Shriners Hospital for Children. Austin had both of his arms and both of his legs amputated, and that was his third birthday.

 Austin is now able to use prosthetic legs,  and is currently in therapy to learn to walk, climb stairs, etc. He also recently got a motorized wheelchair that he can get in and out of by himself.  When you watch him in action — bouncing from toy to toy, getting a book from his book shelf, and smiling this wonderful contagious grin —you are reminded that so much in life we take for granted.

But what does the future hold for Austin?

With your help, we hope... a new handicap accessible home!

Austin still goes to therapy many times a week and he will still require numerous surgeries due to his bones still growing. And yet he is here with us — smiling!

You can see, when you visit their home, Austin is loved. His brother plays with him like any older brother. His cousin Ashley, who also works at a Day Care Center in Tea, helps at home between high school and work. Heather works most evening shifts so she has time to take Austin to therapy appointments in Sioux Falls.The biggest challenges  are the size constraints of the home, they have little floor space and narrow hallways, so even if there were a ramp to get Austin’s wheelchair in—there would not be room to use it. All of the bedrooms are on the upper level, someone (Heather or Ashley) has to carry Austin upstairs to bed, or for him just to play in his room. 
The other concerns are the accessibility for Austin as he gets older. A handicap accessible  bathroom would be an amazing benefit for him and give him the independence he will need. It’s all of these little things that add up to a life-changing home for a family like the Coffee’s. 
Another concern is where Austin’s  wheelchair is stored. Because the house is small and there is no ramp, Heather keeps the wheelchair in heated storage (heated because of the battery on the chair). This storage is located across the street. So on the days he needs to use the chair, which is when he attends preschool, his mom has to go out to get it, maneuver it back to the home, using the sidewalk’s only ramp which is between two trash dumpsters. Austin drives it that way too. 
This family is kind and  generous to each other and doing the best that they can. And Austin—well, he is the most inspiring little boy you’ll ever met.

We hope you see the life changing possibilities for this family. To donate to Austin please click on the Donate button to the right.

Watch the videos, look at the photos and tell everyone you know! Just imagine if each one of us gave just a little...
With your help we can build a home for Austin!

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Thank you for taking time to hear Austin's story. We hope you are inspired to go out and see each day as a miracle!