Austin Osner was born without most of his right arm, but the 11-year-old Fairfield resident won’t let that stop him from getting the most out of life.
Osner and his mother, Kristin McGinn, are planning a special event designed to bring some joy to others who have experienced what he has gone through.
The mother and son duo have arranged for the nationally lauded Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team to play two games and meet with young amputees in August of 2018.
McGinn told the Journal-News that people should save the date because the Warriors offer something very special to kids like her son.
“Austin was born without most of his right arm so he is considered a congenital amputee — a person born without a limb or limbs, or without a part of a limb or limbs,” she explained.
Her son was diagnosed with Amniotic Band Syndrome, a condition that occurs when an unborn baby gets entangled in with amniotic bands in the womb.
But McGinn said her son has always tried to maintain a positive attitude and that was given a boost when they were able to attend a kids camp held by the Warriors last year.
“The camp is for amputee children between the ages of 8 to 12 and the Warriors use softball to help teach their motto that ‘life is limitless,’” McGinn explained. “Austin had really gone through a lot, but his camp helped him gain self-confidence and really turned him around. His self-esteem skyrocketed.”
She said that Austin had been at time despondent because there were not many amputees his age that he encountered.
“Am I the only amputee child around,” Osner asked his mother. She said the connection with the Warriors changed that mentality for her son and offered some opportunities for encouragement that she couldn’t provide.
“To say that the camp and connection with the Warriors was a life changing experience is an understatement,” McGinn said. “When the kids leave the camp they remain Warriors for life - like a family. If Austin is having a bad day I can call one of the players and they will talk to him. I don’t know what it’s like not to have a limb so he can relate to someone that knows.”
One of the players lost his legs fighting for the United States in Afghanistan and he is a big source of inspiration to the kids he meets.
“His name is Josh and his legs were blown off while fighting in Afghanistan,” McGinn said. “He talks about making lemonade out of lemons and is really encouraging to the kids.”
The Warriors travel around the country and play against able-bodied teams in order to show that they are just as competitive. When they roll into Fairfield on the weekend of August 17 next year they will play a group from Fairfield police and fire called the “Smoking Pigs,” and also square off with the Gem City Merchants.
“We are getting all of the details together and really are doing this as a fundraiser to donate money to the Warriors’ camp so kids and a parent can go,” McGinn said. “Of course we need to work on donations and sponsorships to make all of this happen.”
She is also hoping to have a group of kids from Fairfield’s Hanger Clinic, which helps them and Osner with their prosthetics, meet with the Warriors for some one-on-one time during their visit.
In the meantime, Osner is training to compete in Taekwondo in the 2024 Paraolympic games.