WALWORTH, N.Y. (WROC) — A Gananda high school student received a warm welcome Monday morning when he returned to school for the first time since a September motorcycle accident.
Austin Sierra, 17, was welcomed by the whole school after spending more than 50 days in the hospital. Fellow students held signs and cheered for Austin as they escorted him to class.
The teenager suffered serious injuries back on September 22 when his motorcycle collided with a pickup truck near the West Walworth Road and Gananda Parkway intersection. Austin was transported to Strong Memorial Hospital via Mercy Flight.
Since that crash, the Gananda Central School District community has rallied around him and his family, including a GoFundMe to support medical bills and an explosion of generosity that no one saw coming.
Austin, a senior at Gananda’s Ruben Cirillio High School, is well-known in the community for his willingness to check in on neighbors and help people, from the days of riding his bicycle around to right on through his upgrade to the motorcycle.
Jessica Brown, a neighbor, recalled one Christmas when he took down her tree, then gave back money she paid him.
“My daughter comes out and said mom I need $20 for this school activity tomorrow and I said I don’t have that on me right this minute,” Brown told News 8 back in September. “Austin took the $20 I had just given him and gave it to my daughter and said here take this. He would never let me pay him back.”
These types of good deeds were shown to many others around the Community which fueled the burst of generosity sent Austin’s way after a close friend started a GoFundMe Page to cover medical bills. Raising over $13,000 in the first 12 hours.
“It definitely shows Austin is a really well-known person in this community and is loved by many,” said Caitlyn Harrington, who started the GoFundMe page. “He’s always so supportive to everybody and I know everybody wants to give back to him at this time.”
“It honestly feels amazing I love how everyone felt the same way about Austin because he loved everyone,” his close friend Gage Abert told us. “And go up to anyone even if they were having a good day or bad day. He always talked to them and actually improved it.”
In the days to follow the entire Ruben Cirillo High School Student Body wore blue to support Austin’s recovery. As of Friday evening, his friends found out over a call he made progress and is awake in the hospital recovering.
“I heard his voice and had a conversation with him and he remembered me which means there’s nothing wrong and he’s going to be ok,” Abert said. “I honestly cried happiness with a smile and started texting her and everybody else I knew he’s ok and it’s going great.”
“I called his mom and she answered and said Austin wants to talk to you,” Harrington said. “She handed the phone and it was the same old Austin. Bubbly, happy, and positive saying I’m so ready for this long journey.”
Support Austin extended beyond the local community. Buffalo Bills long snapper Reid Ferguson wished him a speedy recovery on social media late last month:
Injuries Austin suffered included multiple fractures throughout his back, amputation of his left leg below the knee, and other injuries to his lungs and ribs.
Check back with News 8 WROC as we’ll have the full story on Austin’s return to school later today.