By Kyle Lovern
On June 18, 12-year-old Austin Rahe was at a friend’s house when flames from an accident involving fireworks engulfed his body.
The youngster suffered burns over 90 percent of his body. Many of them were horrible third-degree burns.
Many weeks and countless prayers later, Rahe returned home to Lenore last week from the Cincinnati Shriners Hospital and Burn Unit.
“The prognosis is good,” his mother, Michelle Rahe, said. “The whole community has been behind us. There were many prayers for Austin during this ordeal.”
“We have gotten so much support from the community and on Facebook,” the boy’s mother said.
“He still has a lot of physical therapy, but hopefully he will be back in school in a couple of weeks,” Michelle Rahe added.
Last Tuesday, students and community members welcomed Austin as he rode back into Mingo County. He was driven in on a fire truck that passed by hundreds of students holding posters at both Lenore and Kermit middle schools.
Many lawns were adorned with red and white balloons and signs welcoming Austin back home.
Michelle and her husband, Tim, were alongside him as he was welcomed back with open arms. His twin brother Adam was there, too.
Austin, who will be in the seventh-grade, hopes to play basketball again this winter. He also plays soccer and baseball during the summer.
“It was a terrible accident,” Michelle Rahe said. “But the good Lord had his hands on him. The fire did not burn his face.”
She said doctors could not believe that his lungs were not damaged from breathing the heat and flames. That in itself was a miracle.
“The doctors did not give us a lot of hope at first,” Austin’s mother said. “But we stayed positive and continued to pray.”
Austin had to undergo several skin grafts over about 70 percent of his body.
The third- and second-degree burns took their toll on his young body.
A bank account is set up for Austin and donations can be taken to any BB & T bank branch. This will help the family pay medical bills and other expenses.
“But Austin is a fighter,” his mother said. “The first few weeks were tough. He was on a ventilator and the doctors were worried about infections.”
“It will be a long process and he will continue healing,” Michelle Rahe said. “It has been tough on him.”
“We rallied together and God answered our prayers,” she added. “He healed our baby.”
Kyle Lovern is the sports editor of the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277, or on Twitter @KyleLovern.