Help Tell Austin's Story, and Stop SBS
$14,610 of $9,000 goal
I recently learned my presentation submission to share Austin's story as a Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma survivor at the 14th International Conference on Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma in Denver, Co September 21-23, 2014 was accepted. This is an awesome opportunity to continue to share Austin's story beyond our local and regional community to a very national and international contingent of professionals, doctors, nurses, lawyers, prosecutors, social workers and many others; a chance to inspire and motivate these professionals to work hard and tirelessly to help prevent this very preventable form of child abuse.
Over the past 13-1/2 years I have shared his story with middle, high school and college students, social clubs like Noon Optimists and Kiwanis, churches, and professional forums with doctors, lawyers, judges, police, social workers, and child abuse prevention advocates all over Indiana and Southwestern Michigan.
I have a dream and a mission to allow Austin to live a full and happy life void of limitations, aside from his own physical limitations, as best I can. This trip to Denver provides an opportunity to give Austin experiences he will not often get in his life, the opportunity to travel to one of the most beautiful parts of the country in the Rocky Mountains region via airplane, train and car. As many know, Austin has a real and deep love for trains; he has also never flown before.
Austin, and his story, has made an impact in our community, bringing awareness to disability rights, child abuse prevention, and more specifically Shaken Baby Syndrome prevention. I would like to share Austin, and his story, more broadly, through national presentations, like this opportunity in Denver, and through future book publications. Unfortunately, these opportunities and dreams cost money, and a fireman's salary cannot support these things and Austin and myself.
I am asking for your help in paying for this trip, specifically: air and train fare, hotel and rental car for, me, Austin and a caregiver for Austin, while we are attending the conference. The plan is to fly in to Denver from Chicago, stay a total of five nights for the conference and some sight seeing, and then take AMTRAK home to Elkhart. The caregiver is needed to be with Austin, while I am attending the conference. The cost of the caregiver themselves is covered through some funding available for Austin through his disability services, but I will need to provide their travel and hotel accommodations within reason.
Please consider helping us share Austin's story with a group of people who will make a lasting impact in communities and countries around the world.
Any proceeds raised above the needed costs will be used to help with start-up costs for my non-profit organization, H.E.L.P. Our Kids or costs needed to move forward with book publications about Austin's life, all hopefully providing Austin with more exciting opportunities, while spreading his story of surviving abuse by beating the odds.
It goes without saying that your help is greatly appreciated.
Brian and Austin Replogle
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Austin enjoyed his first ever airplane ride from Indianapolis to Denver. He is still talking about meeting Thomas the Tank Engine and Sir Topham Hat with grandma and grandpa, who traveled with us as Austin's caregivers while I attended the conference (Austin is still talking about Thomas 4 months later).
Austin and I met other families and survivors of Shaken Baby Syndrome as part of the conference activities. What an equally powerful and emotional time for us. Neither of us has knowing met other families before this, it was quite therapeutic to be able to relate with others pains, challenges, and triumphs.
Our presentation was one of the last breakout sessions on the last day of the conference. I think that is a great spot to be in, it allows our audience to remember our presentation, Austin, longer and more vividly as they go home to their work of fighting to prevent, diagnose and prosecute shaken baby syndrome. I hope, and believe, they will have Austin's story as a fresh and vivid reminder of why they are doing the work they have chosen. Austin was a great partner in our presentation. He watched and help narrate the powerpoint movie of his life, and he added his own flare to our live presentation.
We had an amazing audience, Roughly 75-100 people in our little break-out room, standing room only. Many wonderful comments of encouragement to continue our work sharing Austin's story. We even had some ask if we could speak to their groups too, one of which was in the Denver Area and we were actually able to oblige them while we were still on our trip. Two birds with one stone.
That second presentation was amazing. a large group of victims advocates and local prosecutors in Brighton, CO a the District Attorney's Office. I have shared Austin's story many times over the past 14 years, but I have never been asked about Closure. They wanted to know how they could help the families they serve to find closure. It took a minute for me to answer this question, as I had never thought about closure, what is "closure?" As I thought about it i realized there is No Closure for our families, and probably not for any families impacted by Shaken Baby Syndrome. In our case, and the cases of other survivors, we have a daily reminder of the tragedy that has struck our families. I wake up daily to the challenges and demands of having a child who's disabilities are because someone shook him at a very young age. And every night, I put that same child to bed, with those same challenges and demands. Other families, less fortunate, who have lost their child to this form of child abuse have a void in their life where there once was smiles, kisses, laughter and soiled diapers. They have pictures of their family that once was, and is no more, whole. There is no closure to our pain, there is only moving on.
After the conference, my parents flew back home to Indiana, and Austin and I took a few days to enjoy the Denver area and even see some old friends living there. We went to the IAFF fallen Firefighters Memorial in Colorado Springs, to the Silver Platt and Georgetown Mountain train excursion. Even indulging in Mountain Pie in an old mining town. And on the final day we began our journey home, 28 hours or so on an AMTRAK train from Denver to Chicago to Elkhart.
Again, Thank you all for your generous and kind support in sharing Austin's life story of Abuse and Survival in an attempt to help stop Shaken Baby Syndrome worldwide. God Bless.
We reached our goal with the handwork and generosity of so many, like the hundreds of Austin's classmates at Northridge Middle School last spring organizing and conducting a walkathon during their school day. It was a pleasure and an absolute honor to witness their handwork and spirit of sharing.
That being said, the crusade to stop Shaken Baby Syndrome, sharing Austin's story, and making a difference in the lives of kids everywhere is a never ending battle. Sure zero-tolerance would be fantastic, but is it realistic, not likely. However, helping one child to be spared the life ending, or life alter, effects of Shaken Baby Syndrome is possible and very realistic. I can tell story after story of people, many young people, who have found me several years after hearing me tell Austin's story at their school that his story has stayed with them and made a difference in their lives. Mission accomplished! It is those stories that keep me focused and dedicated to the cause.
Please, keep sharing this fundraising page, the Help Our Kids website and my personally information. Every dollar raised beyond the cost of our trip to the International Conference in Denver next month will go toward the opportunities I have to share Austin's story in other places, the writing and publishing of books I'd like to write, and the running of Help our Kids, my personal non-profit organization where I not on;y do public speaking but also advocate with and for people with disabilities all over Michiana, provide opportunities for youth with disabilities to have experiences they would not otherwise get in their lives.
Help Our Kids has incorporated, and filed for non-profit 501c3 status wit the IRS. This dream is becoming a reality because you believe in us. Thank you again for your unending support.
So, I continue to share Austin's story, to talk about Shaken Baby Syndrome locally, regionally and nationally, in hopes of saving one more child from enduring the pains Austin and our family have endured, or worse, death. I know that over the years my efforts have made a difference to those who listened. I have had young adults approach me and Austin in public with memories of my presentation, and stories of how it changed their view of life. These testimonials are what make it all worthwhile.
Your continued support, both moral and financial, helps make these presentations possible, to offer handouts, to have gas to make trips around the region, and to market what I am doing so others know I am here to share with them as well.
Thank you so much to those who have given, and those who will continue to give, your support is very much appreciated.
If anyone is interested in scheduling a presentation for your church group, social club, or other organization please contact me through GoFundMe. I would be happy to talk to you and plan something for your group to learn about Shaken Baby Syndrome, HELP Our Kids Inc. (Non-profit organization I am formally organizing), and my personal mission to HELP kids.