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THE STRENGTH OF THE LION

****Please watch the above interview of Austin by Fellowship Greenville in celebration of his 1 year post-injury anniversary.***
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—–PLEASE READ “UPDATES” BELOW FOR RECENT NEWS AND “ALBUMS” BELOW FOR PHOTOS—
You may be asking yourself, “WHY ARE THEY TRYING TO RAISE MONEY?”. According to the Dana and Christopher Reeve website, christopherreeve.org, and the National Spinal Cord Injury Statistical Center (NSCISC) located at The UAB Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, in the year 2015, the average cost for a 25 year old in the first year after a spinal cord injury similar to Austin’s injury is $3,451,781 to $4.7 million. Each and every year thereafter for the rest of their life is $113,423,00.. These totals are only for medical and physical care, not basic costs of living. Since Austin was 16 years old at the time of injury and it is now the year 2021, his financial costs are greater than those stated above. Even with medical insurance, many needs are not covered by insurance. Your TAX DEDUCTIBLE donation will be managed by Help Hope Live and paid DIRECTLY to Shepherd Center, all merchants, and all services for Austin’s present uncovered foreseen needs, therefore you can be assured your donation is securely used for necessities, which currently are a modified vehicle ($56,000-$80,000), home modification projects ($50,000-$85,000), activity based physical therapy (approx. $45,000 each year), home physical therapy equipment such as walking parallel bars ($5,000.), stretching mat table ($5,000.), small therapy equipment (?), and acupuncture & massage therapy to alleviate pain, muscle tone, and stiffness as well as skeletal wellness (approx. $16,000 each year). There are some desired costs like adaptive equipment for elective activities, such as sports and outdoor fun, that are not in these totals since they are not necessities.
If you have any further questions about any of this information, please go to the previously mentioned websites or contact me, Kasie, Austin’s mom, on this website.
Thank you for your interest and help! -PLEASE READ ABOUT AUSTIN BELOW-
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On May 15, 2020, at the age of 16, Austin sustained a catastrophic spinal cord injury when he broke three cervical vertebrae in his neck in a swimming pool accident. He was immediately paralyzed from his chest down with very minimal arm movement. Thankfully, his friend saw him faced down in the water and rescued him. At the ER, he was diagnosed with quadriplegia, which means all four limbs of his body are affected with paralysis. Austin was paralyzed from his chest down through the rest of his body. The following morning, Austin underwent surgery to stabilize his neck which required two titanium rods and 10 screws from cervical 4 to thoracic 2 vertebrae. After 12 days in the NeuroTrauma ICU at Greenville Memorial Hospital, he was transferred to Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA for their Spinal Cord Injury Inpatient Program and their subsequent Day Program. He was there for six months, then came home for four months to have his second Baclofen pump surgery and recovery. As of April 5th, 2021, he is back at Shepherd Center for their Beyond Therapy program, which, with enough financial funding, Austin can plan on participating in for the rest of the year and thereafter until his goals are achieved or his recovery plateaus, then he will move on to other treatments and therapies in the U.S.. To learn more about Beyond Therapy, go to
www.beyond-therapy.org .
(Please click “see all” below)

Updates (4)

August 12, 2021

Tee It Up For Austin golf tournament was a great success by raising over $52,240 for Austin’s Physical Therapy!!!!! WOW!!!!
THANK YOU to all who donated, sponsored, or participated in the golf tournament!! YOU ARE HEROES!!!
To see pictures of the golf tournament, please scroll down to PHOTO ALBUMS and click on the “see all” arrow. The 3 “Tee It Up For Austin” photo albums will appear. Please click on the picture of the album you would like to look through to open the album. If you would like any of the photos, please email me, Kasie, and I will be joyful to email it to you. My email is [email protected] . Thank you, again, for supporting Austin’s recovery. He could not do it without you!

July 8, 2021

I, Austin, wrote the following in response to the questions my church, Fellowship Greenville, asked me in an email on November 10, 2020 while I was in Day Program at Shepherd Center. This was two days before my 17th birthday when I was still in Day Program at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, G.A.. I had been there since I was transferred from the NeuroTrauma ICU in Greenville, S.C. on May 27th, 2020. This was the written interview, typed by my mom, that lead to an “in person” interview with Fellowship Greenville’s Audio-Visual team. You may have seen the final result in the video above. I hope it gives you a little look into my life at this time. It is unedited.

Hello! My name is Austin James Somerville. I am 16 years old. On May 15th, 2020, I had a swimming pool accident and sustained a spinal cord injury by breaking three cervical (neck) vertebrae. I was immediately paralyzed chest down with minimal use of my arms. I was in Greenville’s NeuroTrauma ICU for 12 days, then I was transferred to Shepherd Center, a spinal cord injury rehabilitation facility in Atlanta, G.A.. I am still there now. I will be coming home on November 24th for a respite until I return back to Shepherd Center for more therapy beginning in January and beyond.

FG: HOW DID GOD COMFORT YOU AND BRING PEACE EVEN IN THE UNKNOWN?

Austin: When my head hit the bottom of the pool, I felt a shockwave go throughout my body, then immediately, as I attempted to swim, I realized my body was paralyzed. I knew it was futile, so I stopped trying to swim in order to pray. I prayed and said, “Lord, if this is my time for you to take me home, then so be it, but if it is not, please tell one of my friends to come get me”. At that moment, I felt a blanket of peace come over me although I was frightened. I thought of my family and just lied there calmly to see what the Lord’s answer was. After a little time, I prayed, “Lord, I need to take a breath”. Suddenly, I felt someone push on my head, which lead to my friend, John, turning me over. That breath of air was marvelous! I was so thankful the Lord nudged him.
The sense peace continued even when I was laying beside the pool. It was more like a sense of a strong foundation under me. I was so thankful I escaped the death option, but now I was scared in a different way. Thanks to gravity, I also realized the severity of my injury and paralysis. The EMT’s arrived and did some needle tests on me, but I felt nothing. In the ambulance, I had a great conversation about the Lord with the EMT who was caring for me. We talked about His love and we prayed together the whole way to the hospital. In the ER, I still had the peace even through all the tests and scans…and no family with me. Jesus never left me! I just felt like I was in the Lord’s hands and He can have His perfect way….a total surrender, I guess, but with peace that is so strong and steady…. The peace that passes all understanding.

Another time of soft peace that fell on me was before I had the surgery to stabilize my neck. This was the next morning on May 16th. My parents were not allowed to be with me, so essentially, I was alone since the emergency room, all through the night, and before surgery. When I saw the surgeon before, I cried and asked him to pray for me. He did. After the prayer, I was still crying, but I felt peaceful. The surgery went well. The surgeon placed two rods and ten screws in my cervical spine from C4-T2.

At Shepherd Center, even when I still could not move anything nor had any feeling chest down, the Lord’s peace still continued. It is not totally constant…… I certainly have my moments, but when I call on Him, He has provided comfort and strength which usually comes through people He has sent to encourage me, a card in the mail, a sermon, a praise song, or a still small voice in our prayers. The peace and comfort of the Lord, which truly does go beyond our comprehension and understanding, is very real!

FG: HOW HAVE YOU FELT YOUR PRAYERS HEARD AND ANSWERED?

Austin: I always know He hears my prayers and crying out to Him, but what I do not know is when are my requests and His will different. I try to stay surrendered to His will and His plans for me because they are always good and with love, yet scripture says to bring our requests before Him, so I do. Everyday I do. The Lord has made a path every step of this journey. From my friend who saved my life… to having an awesome surgeon and staff (my Shepherd Center doctor was even impressed with his surgical work)…. to getting me in to Shepherd Center (aka: a touch of heaven on Earth) amidst a pandemic and many applicants….to letting my mom be with me here the whole time…to having the perfect therapists, nurses, and doctors who are so loving, patient, and funny…. to night nurses that would pray over me with my mom…. to hundreds of people who reach out in numerous ways to show they care by praying daily, sending meaningful cards and encouraging posters, visits by staff to my room daily just because they wanted to not because they had to-even staff that were not assigned to me….to the blessing of a baclofen pump, which was surgically implanted by another great neurosurgeon, to pump anti-spasm medicine into my spinal fluid (spasms were so bad that oral medicines could not control them anymore)…..to getting into the Day Program (where I am in now), which has a huge waiting list…. to people who drive hours just to visit ten feet apart from me with a fence between us…..to people who I do not even know who have brought food, financial donations, sent cards, and loving messages….to the amazing life-long friends that I have met here at rehab who also have catastrophic spinal cord or brain injuries (we are connected like family now)….to giving me the opportunities to encourage and love on other patients as well as share the gospel….to so many people from all over the world (thousands in India and Africa alone) praying for us and sending messages to me and my family….to now being able to go home to regroup and rest with my family at an AirBNB that the Lord provided for us all to be in…..to being accepted into the Beyond Therapy Program at Shepherd Center that will begin in January….to the donations and my t-shirt sales paying for the Beyond Therapy in January ……and now to you, the blessing of you being interested in hearing about my journey. So, have I seen the Lord working? Absolutely!! I hope you do too.

Another way I know prayers are heard is by the physical progress I am having. My healing is nothing short of miraculous. I am now taking some steps with a walker! I have feeling all over my body and most muscles have “woken up”. Some muscles are barely detectable, but at least they are detectable! I am full-time in a manual wheelchair and I can transfer myself from my chair to my bed or couch, etc.. Please know I have a long way to go, but I have also come a long way too. I do not have bladder or bowel functioning, nor use of my fingers. I have to take a lot of medicines to regulate neuro-spasms, nerve pain, and to keep my blood pressure up in normal range, etc., but what I am able to do is truly miraculous. All healing comes from the Lord! He is answering prayers. He always hears. He always answers. He always loves…even when it hurts.

FG: HOW HAVE YOU FELT GOD GROWING YOUR FAITH AT THIS TIME?

Austin: Honestly, I am still in the refiner’s fire. I am still being stretched tightly. Most of all, I am learning patience and trust. The more I trust Him with a surrendered heart, the more I see He is trustworthy. Look at all He has provided! Yes, I do wonder sometimes why He allowed this to happen to me, His child, but then I feel this feeling that tells me, “It’s going to be o.k.”. Honestly, why are we surprised by trials and difficulties? Jesus said, “In this World, you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world!”. All through time, it has been through adversity that we learn to be more like Christ and to trust Him. A great quote I heard once- “Blessed are those who do not despise Him in His silence”. Even when we do not see it or feel it, He is working. We build up our faith muscles, our trust muscles, and patience. We hopefully die more to ourselves in the “refiner’s fire” and come out looking more like Christ.

I am also learning to continually be in a mindset of thankfulness by thinking of the things I am thankful for rather than the things I want and want to be. I am learning to savor every moment and everyone that is with me because people are worth it and I love them. I still have my dreams, I strive, and I do my best, but I also know I must accept God’s plan for my life above my own plans (if they are different) because He knows best. I want to work for NASA, but maybe the Lord will direct me a different way. I am actually anxious with anticipation to see what the Lord continues to do with all of this journey. I do not know yet what He has planned, so please pray for me that I will know what to do with all of this and that I do not miss it.

If you would like to contact me for any reason, then please email me at:
[email protected]

or my mom, Kasie, at: [email protected]

Thank You and God Bless You,
Austin Somerville

Photo Galleries (9)

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Guestbook

June 28, 2021

Sending love and prayers!

Katie Powers

June 26, 2021

Our family has been praying for Austin since last May. We have followed his story after a prayer request from our daughter-in- law, but have never had the opportunity to meet him. What a special guy! God is Good and we give Him the praise for all our Lord is doing in and through Austin. Continuing to pray for Austin

Michael & Linda Smith

June 26, 2021

Keep shining for Jesus Austin!

Mark Hunsinger

June 21, 2021

I will pray for God to watch over Austin and heal his body.

Gary Tompkins