Vail Titans reunite to support ailing teammate
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Marcelino Benito
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The Vail Titans youth soccer team hadn't taken the field together in several years, but Sunday they re-united off the field to support one of their own.
"We're all one big family," said Austin's friend and former teammate Devin Lake.
Austin was critically injured by falling rocks as he hiked the Grand Canyon. His injuries included a fractured skull, punctured lung and injuries to his clavicle, vertebrae and ribs. It landed him in the intensive care unit at Flagstaff Medical Center.
"It was devastating," said Marla Grossman. "We cried for weeks."
Grossman is Austin's grandmother. She tells 9OYS it's been a trying time for the family, and a difficult time for his former teammates.
"I was pretty shocked at first," said Lake. "It hit me really heard, he's a really good friend."
The Titan family wanted to find a way to help Austin. So with a little soap and a lot of water they're raising funds for his long road to recovery.
"We just built a great bond and we'd do anything for anyone of us," said Lake.
"It's all for him and we're glad to be here," said former teammate Colby Jacobson.
Complete strangers came too. Cars lined up to help Austin. It's a sight Austin's grandmother says she'll never forget. 9OYS reporter Marcelino Benito asked Grossman how the community's response has helped. She replied, "This is just heartwarming. We've had great family support. People were there almost 24 hours a day with Austin."
His teammates say Austin won't be alone throughout his recovery. They say behind every great soccer player is a strong team. Benito asked team mom Lynne Lake what it means to the team to help out. She replied, "It touches my heart. This is a big thing because the boys are all grown up and it's just a wonderful thing that we all came together today."
Austin is back in Tucson at a local hospital. His grandmother tells 9OYS he continues to improve. He's talking, walking and eating on his own. She calls him a "real-life miracle." Austin is expected to continue rehab for the next several months. In the coming weeks, he's also slated for a cranioplasty, a procedure to replace the bone flap that was removed from his skull with a new material.
All these procedures are expensive. If you'd like to help the family with donations or want more information about Austin, click here.