“Able to Just Be With Each Other”

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Published: Apr 13, 2018

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When the Willis family experienced a serious car accident in June 2017, 8-year old Austin was ejected from the vehicle and landed on the asphalt.   He was the only one in the car who suffered a lasting injury.

“Austin has a traumatic brain injury,” his mom Ashley shares, “He had to learn how to talk again, how to walk again.”

Austin had a long road to recovery ahead of him after the accident, and the family began the frequent therapy appointments as soon as Austin was ready.  He and his family have been staying at the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware since the accident.

Although the Willis family lives about an hour away in Smyrna, Delaware, the commute to and from Wilmington for daily appointments would have become a burden quickly, especially for a child recovering from a brain injury.

Ashley shares that without being able to stay at the House, Austin may not have made so much progress in re-learning skills like walking and talking. “We wouldn’t be able to drive up here for appointments every day,” she says, “He wouldn’t be able to do any of his therapies.”

Austin, Ayden, and AbelAustin and his brother Abel, who is 4 years old, stay with their mom at the Ronald McDonald House while their third brother, Ayden, stays at home with dad during the week.  Although the family can’t all be together all the time, they are thankful to be able to find a place that allows them to stay as close as possible: “We’re able to just be here with each other and not be in different parts of the state.”

While they are looking forward to going home permanently soon, Austin and Abel have been having their fair share of fun at RMHDE.  Austin says “I like to play foosball in the romper room!” The boys also share that they love watching sports and movies in the movie theater, and they enjoy doing crafts hosted by volunteers in the evenings.  Ashley says that she appreciates the support of other parents and families, “I like to talk and hang out with other families.  We’ve met a lot of new friends.”

While Austin continues to progress toward recovery, his therapies are becoming less frequent and the family is looking forward to being able to stay at home, rather than their “home-away-from-home.”  And what is Austin specifically most looking forward to? “I want to ride my four-wheeler – that’s number one! And play baseball- that’s number two!”

Austin’s story was recently featured as part of our RMHC CBS3 Telethon.  Watch the video here. Spoiler: Austin found out that he will be heading to Philadelphia Eagles Training Camp for a day this summer to meet one of his heroes, quarterback Carson Wentz!

Princessed, Superheroes, and the Willis family

Austin and his family had a great time at our first ever Character Breakfast in March!

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