- Pikes Peak Early College
Austin Beatty Thanks SSAE Students
Austin Beatty, a 2021 alumnus from Springs Studio of Academic Excellence, returned to school in order to thank a group of elementary students for encouraging him during a second battle with cancer.
During his senior year, Austin was diagnosed with osteosarcoma and had to have a portion of his left leg amputated. After graduation, cancer returned, this time in his lung.
SSAE elementary students sent postcards of encouragement to Austin each week for two months while he went through cancer treatment.
“We wanted to make sure he knew Springs Studio still cared about him and to help him fight for his life,” said Adrianne Ryland, dean of students.
On Tuesday, May 10, Austin and his family came to SSAE loaded with pizza and ice cream to say thank you to the students for sending the positive postcards.
“It was amazing,” Austin said. “Once you get the support you feel like you can do anything. All the support can mean the difference between giving up and wanting to keep fighting.”
Executive Principal David Knoche addressed the students. “Every time we tell you to be nice and kind, see the impact that it has on someone. When you are nice and kind to other people, it matters.”
“It is great to put faces with the names on the postcards,” Austin said. “You guys sending those cards meant a lot to me. I’m very thankful for you doing that.”
Austin and his family served pizza and drinks and let the students ask questions about his cancer, surgery and recovery. The students’ biggest surprise came with the details of his leg amputation, which moved his ankle to his knee, known as rotationplasty. The middle part of Austin’s leg was removed, from his upper thigh to the middle of his shin. The doctors then reattached his lower shin, ankle and foot, and rotated it 180 degrees. His ankle is now his knee joint. This procedure provides a better option for the use of a prosthetic leg and greater mobility. Austin did a bit of show and tell with his prosthetic, so the students could see his leg.
This revelation spurred several questions including one student asking Austin if he could moonwalk. “I wasn’t able to do that before surgery,” Austin said to a round of laughter.
Seeing a teaching moment in Austin’s visit, Knoche said, “What can you learn from this? What are you going to do when you have some adversity in your life? You have to get support. You have to work through it. You can’t quit. Austin is one of the best examples I’ve seen of someone who does not quit. He never stops smiling. It was tough. Every one of you is that tough. When you go through adversity, just think about what he has gone through and has overcome. And that will help you if you ever have adversity. He’s come here not only to thank you, but to remind you that you can overcome anything if you put your mind to it and work hard at it.”
Knoche said to Austin, “We’re so proud of you and so glad you came back to do this for the students. The pizza means a lot, but the words mean a lot more.”
Austin is currently enrolled at Pikes Peak Community College and is looking at possibilities for a career in physical therapy or athletic training.
"Tough times don't last. Tough people do."