By Charles Tweed
From the outside, Austen Radowits, or Auzzie as he’s affectionately known, looks like any other teenage boy.
A bright smile, tattoo on his forearm and a love of freestyle motocross.
Austen has been wearing out bikes since he was three. But one jump would change his life forever.
Late in the summer of 2008, while ripping around his family’s farm on his two-stroke Kawasaki, Auzzie blacked out going over a tabletop jump — a single jump where there is a take off at one end and a landing spot at the other. It’s believed he blacked out due to an earlier undiagnosed concussion.
Unfortunately the ride wasn’t over.
Momentum from the first jump carried him into a double — two jumps spaced apart where one acts as your launch point and the other acts at your landing point. Auzzie lacked the necessary speed to complete the gap, piling his bike into the front of the second jump and forcing both him and the bike into a barrel roll, eventually slamming him headfirst into the ground.
Auzzie suffered what is known in the medical condition as Diffused Axonal Injury or as he says, “Imagine your brain is a bowl of Jell-O, and you slam that Jell-O into the wall. The sudden deceleration rattles the Jell-O around and creates small breaks in it.”
The injury left him comatose for several days.
A tough time for the Radowits family and it would get worse before it got better. With Auzzie’s health deteriorating doctors informed the family they might want to start thinking about organ donation.
Thankfully, with a lot of prayers and nights spent at the hospital for mom and dad, it never came to that. Auzzie pulled through. The next step would be focusing on recovery and rehabilitation.
After a lot of hard work, Radowits rejoined his classmates — where an all-together new set of challenges presented themselves.
No longer the motocross star or the basketball player, Auzzie became the subject of ridicule from bullies in his school.
The rigors of his physical recovery compounded by this new emotional abuse took its toll on Auzzie.
He internalized the abuse, unable to reach out, until one day he finally found his voice.
“It felt like I lost 10 pounds every time I told someone. It’s so important to tell people, whether it’s your parents or teachers, what you are going through and not take the full load of it,” said Radowits.
A 4-H communication project — much like the ones that took place in Ponoka earlier this month —captured the audience and left the judges in awe.
Auzzie had found a new passion. The roar once heard from the muffler of his 125 cc bike would now be heard from the lips of its rider. Through public speaking events the goal would be to help other children affected by bullying to find their voice.
Feb. 15, Auzzie visited Mecca Glen to relay his message; to suggest he was well received is an understatement.
After finishing, he opened the floor to questions.
A few arms went up.
Auzzie answered each question thoughtfully.
More arms went up.
Soon, it seemed as though every kid in the gym had his or her hand up.
Mecca Glen had found its voice.