By Renee Bergandino, Managing Editor
Shannon Austin was an honors student at Norristown Area High School who was just like any other child. She loved to draw, sing and hang with her friends. However, on November 9 of 2007 Shannon’s life as well as her family’s life had changed. Shannon and her friends volunteered at a Christmas bazaar at St. Teresa of Avila Church in West Norriton. Once the bazaar was finished, they had decided to go to a convenience store for some drinks, but they never made it.
Shannon was struck by a car while crossing South Trooper Road and had to be flown by helicopter to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Shannon was in a coma for over two months and underwent 20 surgeries, many of which were needed for her brain, since she suffered from Traumatic Brain Injury also known as acquired brain injury or simply a brain injury. She is completely dependent on others for care. Shannon is unable to talk, use her arms or legs and has a trache tube for breathing and a stomach tube for feeding.
Unfortunately, Shannon returned home on May 1 because insurance would no longer pay for her hospital stay, even though she really was not ready to go home. Shannon has a wonderful mother and father who love her and believe that she is on her way to returning to them, like she was once. There is also another person who believes in Shannon, and is someone who believes he was meant to help her. His name is Adam Miscioscia, a senior at Upper Merion High School who decided to do his senior project on Shannon.
The amazing part of the whole story is that Adam never met Shannon. The way he found out was through Shannon’s mother who works in the attendance office at Upper Merion. Adam decided that his primary concern was thinking of others, but since Adam started working on this project, he has learned that society is reluctant to help people with whom they are unfamiliar. So far, Adam has done many things in Shannon’s name, such as “Spare Change for Shannon.” Also, on November 13, Adam held a fundraiser at Chick-Fil-A in King of Prussia where he works part time. The fundraiser went from 2:30 to 9:30 p.m. He arranged it so that 20 percent of what was made during that shift that evening would go toward the Shannon Austin Fund.
Shannon is in need of equipment and rehab, as well as making modifications to her home for her wheelchair. Shannon’s parents have seen differences in Shannon. She now looks around and they believe that she knows who they are. Shannon’s four best friends visit her often and keep her updated on things that are going on. So altogether, Shannon not only has her family and friends, but now more than ever, she has a community rooting for her.
Something that started out as Adam Miscioscia’s senior project and his concern that people would not care for a stranger has now turned into something more. It has turned into hope that there really are people out there willing to do whatever they can for a person they don’t know. If you would like to make a donation to help the Austin Family and Adam’s senior project, checks can be made out to the Shannon Austin Fund, c/o Citizen Bank, and mailed to: Donna Jean Cabot, 708 Hunsberger Road, Phoenixville PA, 19460. Be sure to put Adam’s Senior Project in the memo line. Hopefully we can all look at this story and see how lucky we are to be here and to be healthy, happy and to know that there are people around who care. Pray for the Austin Family and for Shannon’s recovery.