I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Austin or his family, but I’m glad to see the large-scale outpouring of care, concern and support for them during this difficult time. In case you are a visitor to the Queen City of the Highlands or a recent arrival and — like me — don’t know Austin personally, I can tell you what I’ve heard people say about him. They say Austin is a nice, well-mannered 15-year old boy. They say he is a talented athlete with great potential. They say he was simply hanging out with friends when he injured his neck and spine diving into a swimming pool on a hot day.
My hairstylist at Strandz said she’s never heard Austin utter a mean word about anyone, nor has she ever heard anyone speak badly of Austin. She said his mother and father are good, decent people of faith. I hope their faith sustains and comforts them as they help their son navigate what likely will be a difficult road to recovery. (Please place emphasis on the word “recovery” not the word “difficult.”)
Our hardworking sports editor, Scott Herpst, jumped on Austin’s story immediately once word of the student athlete’s accident leaked out on Facebook. Scott has combined his journalistic responsibility for telling the story accurately with consideration for Austin and his family’s well-being.
Seeing last week’s rally unify so many, from our schools, churches, businesses, and other organizations, was truly inspiring. I feel proud to live in a place where neighbors still lend a helping hand. I hope to see more of this kind of positive action taken in future for various good causes and neighbors-in-need.
Along with the gathering at LaFayette High School’s football field that reportedly raised thousands of dollars for Austin’s care last week, others in the community also have stepped forward to help.
As of press time, Don Lolo’s Mexican Restaurant in LaFayette donated 20 percent of its profits made on Saturday, June 16, to the Whitten family.
The JROTC at LHS announced it would hold a carwash and bake sale this Saturday to benefit Austin and his family. The fundraiser will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, June 23, at O’Reilly Auto Parts on North Main Street in LaFayette.
I’ve no doubt even clean cars will be washed and die-hard dieters will forget counting calories and count blessings instead.
Denise Etheridge is the assistant editor for the Walker County Messenger.