Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Thirteen-year-old Austin Sulcer, of Hixson, and his family will be guests of honor at the Shriners Circus at Camp Jordan in East Ridge Oct. 6-9, which will raise funds to transport children to Shriners hospitals for free medical care.
Local Shriners transport 35 children to medical care monthly. Austin was once one of them.
“That little man Austin is so happy,” said Alhambra Shrine Capt. J.R. Raulston, of Soddy-Daisy. “He speaks highly of his mom and dad and tells you how lucky he is to have parents that have stood by him and helped him. He rode with me in the Buggy Patrol.”
Now a Boy Scout, Austin will soon become the newest member in the 24-man Alhambra Shrine of Chattanooga Buggy Patrol which rides in local parades.
“When Austin was born he was not breathing, bluish in color and had a hole in his heart and lungs,” said his mother Amanda Sulcer, who now calls him a walking miracle. “He spent the first three days hooked to several machines.”
Sulcer said Austin began having seizures and had to take medicine until he outgrew it.
“At the age of 4 he was a little slugger. He loved playing ball so we signed him up to play tee ball,” she said. “For the next five years he played his heart out, earning a spot on the All-Star team twice.”
She said in a moment everything changed and he could not bend his leg. After prescribed anti-inflammatory medicine did not work, Austin came home from school with a letter from the Shriners about a free health screening.
“Together we walked in and were greeted by Shriner ladies that gave Austin coloring pages and a Hot Wheel [toy car],” said Sulcer. “Once we completed the registration, we knew we had come to the right place.”
Chattanooga Shriners took Austin to one of their hospitals in Lexington, Ky., for an evaluation appointment, providing free transportation and medical care for him.
“Honestly, it’s fellowship that allows so many families at the Shriners hospital to get through the tough days,” Sulcer said. “The Shriners hospital has been a blessing to us.”
Raulston said the Sulcer family decided to give back to the Shriners by helping Alhambra Shrine sell nut clusters and pecan log candy this year, blocking off the town of Graysville just outside Sale Creek and asking passing motorists to buy candy. Just like the upcoming circus, the proceeds raised fund transportation and medical care at Shriners hospitals for children that need help.