High school freshman Austin is a jack of all trades. He’s a student first, of course, but he’s also a team manager for his school’s football team and an announcer on a local radio sports show, where he’s a spotter and a statistician. “This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” said 14-year-old Austin.
The path to the press box hasn’t been an easy one for Austin. When he was 2 years old, Austin developed a limp. His parents, Brian and Tracy, took him to the doctor, who referred the little boy to a neurologist. There, an MRI revealed a rare tumor on Austin’s spinal cord called an oligoastrocytoma. Austin underwent chemotherapy at a local hospital.
One of his doctors had previously worked at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and sent Austin there for his continuing care. Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate in the U.S. from 20 percent to more than 80 percent since the hospital opened in 1962.
At St. Jude, Austin underwent surgery to remove the tumor and a total of 12 weeks of radiation therapy over a two-year period. He finished treatment in May 2007 and continues to visit St. Jude for yearly checkups. Because of the effects of treatment, Austin uses a wheelchair or crutches to get around, but nothing slows him down. “Austin has a true love of all sports and he enjoys speaking at events,” said Tracy.
Austin’s job in the press box has been years in the making. In junior high, he managed his school’s basketball team as well as several local little league teams, and he has announced some of his younger sister Skye’s gymnastic meets. In his current role, Austin gathers stats and conducts postgame interviews. As far as the future is concerned, Austin hopes to one day cover pro sports.
This season, you can help patients like Austin by hosting a St. Jude Game Day. Give Back. party. Turn your watch or tailgate party into support for St. Jude patients, and feel like a winner. Learn more.