A few weeks ago, 3-year-old Ben Austin was diagnosed with a Wilms’ tumor — a form of pediatric kidney cancer.
Soon, this precious little boy will start his new, months-long journey, undergoing chemotherapy treatment and surgery.
Luckily, this sweet boy is part of a strong and supportive family, all of whom, upon learning his diagnosis, jumped into action determined to lift his spirits and keep him feeling positive.
While looking for ways to keep her cousin happy and strong, Christie Conway came up with a heartwarming plan.
Knowing her little cousin was absolutely fascinated by superheroes, she posted on Facebook, asking family and friends to draw Austin uplifting superhero drawings.
She was hoping Austin would draw strength from these superheroes, tasked with keeping him company during his upcoming cancer battle.
Of dreaming up her plan, Conway told LittleThings, “I thought that drawing pictures of something he likes would be a therapeutic activity to try to help them cope with the stress, and it would be making Ben happy, too.
“It started as a Facebook status, asking friends and family to draw pictures for Ben.”
Soon, though, her simple request snowballed into a viral movement.
Her cousin Jonelle Musminsky reposted her post, and Conway said, “By the time I finished drawing my second picture, my cousin was contacted by an editor from the NBC news.”
As publicity increased, hundreds of different superhero drawings began flooding in, each with its own heartfelt and empowering message, encouraging little Austin to brave his next challenge as best he can.
Austin’s father, Jason Austin, told LittleThings, “For us, it’s just amazing to see the outpouring of support from everyone. With everything going on in their own lives, they take a few minutes to do something nice for someone else that may even be a stranger.”
“It just reminds you to take a few minutes from your own life now and then, and do something nice for someone else.”
What started as a simple request has since spiraled into a beautiful abundance of support.
Each message is its own beacon of strength for Austin to carry with him into the next leg of his journey.
As more and more drawings roll in, Ben continues fawning over each and every one.
Jason Austin told LittleThings, “Ben is a totally normal 3-and-a-half-year-old boy who has a tough disease, but a positive outlook.
“He looks at every single picture drawn for him at least two to three times, and I’ve put him to bed for the last two nights going over more of the drawings. It’s going to be a long road, but we’ll get through this.”
Austin will undergo 12 weeks of chemotherapy, after which time doctors will decide how much of his kidney will need to be removed.
With his superheroes cheering him on, though, little Austin is hoping to soar right past this life obstacle.
“Family members – in particular Sara and Jason’s parents,” Austin’s Aunt Jonelle Kusminsky explained, “who were enjoying empty-nesting are now full-on caregivers themselves, really looking after Sara and Jason and providing very hands-on support whenever they can.
“It’s pretty emblematic of how much our family cares for one another. I’d also add, of course, that Ben is a new big brother to baby Elle.”
In response to the unexpected waves of unbridled support flooding their hearts, the Austin family updated their GoFundMe page, writing, “The outpouring of love, support, superhero pictures and donations is so overwhelming that I am completely without words.
“In starting this fund, I thought it would be a small way to help. This community has provided aid on a much larger scale. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all. It is so greatly appreciated.”
Kusminsky told LittleThings, “While this initiative was launched to show this one little boy just how much his village loves him, it’s made me (and probably the whole family on some level) and everyone who’s participated in any degree in #SuperheroesForBenny, feel connected to their OWN village, collectively a part of doing good.”
Faced with a scary cancer diagnosis, this lucky little boy’s entire community rallied to support his journey. Hundreds of folks drew him his own empowering fleet of superheroes, ready and willing to keep his spirits up while he battles Bad Guy Cancer.
What do you think about Ben’s superheroes? Have you ever helped a child brave a serious illness? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
Would you like to donate to Austin’s battle or send him a superhero picture? Find out more at his GoFundMe page, here.
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