Austin Studdard | Young Hero Award from Alabama Public Television

Austin Studdard

Oneonta High School

Oneonta, Alabama

Austin Studdard is honorary Oneonta High School football teammate. He stands on the sidelines at the Redskins’ games and cheers the team on – particularly his brother and best friend Tyler.

At birth, Austin was diagnosed with a diaphragmatic hernia. The hernia pushed all of his internal organs to the left side of his chest, leaving little room for his lungs. The doctors gave his parents little chance for survival due to the severity of the condition. Now—eighteen years later—Austin continues to thrive, having undergone 110 surgeries to date.

It has not been an easy journey, though. Among the many surgeries, Austin has undergone brain surgeries four times. Due to damage from the surgeries, he has been forced to learn to walk and talk again more than once. Austin has been in a wheelchair. Four times, he has been homebound and bedridden. “It is a continuous process and a way of life,” wrote nominator and guidance counselor Grace Malek. “I have watched Austin face each hurdle with courage and a smile, no matter where the surgeries left him, from a speech impediment to periods spent in a wheelchair.”

Austin’s nomination was accompanied by multiple letters from his teachers. Robin Stover wrote, “Austin’s determination to be present at school and his desire to live life make him our school hero.”

Assistant principal Sharon Standridge said, “His positive attitude is contagious for his schoolmates, his parents and the OHS faculty. Austin is truly a blessing and a tremendous inspiration to everyone.”

Teacher Beverly Anderson wrote, “On the field with the high school football team, in the halls or at special events, Austin is an inspiration to us all to take what life gives you and turn it into what life can be. Austin Studdard is my hero.”

Austin is an active member of Lebanon United Methodist Church, and his faith is strong. During one of this hospital stays, he told his mother, “I dream I see Jesus. He picks me up and takes me to Heaven.” With a don’t-cry-for-me attitude, Austin adamantly maintains that he is “just fine.”

In concluding her nomination, Ms. Malek wrote, “Austin’s big smile changed my attitude toward life. If Austin is at school, I have nothing to complain. Austin is a true inspiration to our students, school and faculty. We draw encouragement from watching him come to school or when he turns in his schoolwork right after a surgical procedure. Austin Studdard is a true hero!”

The selection committee agreed—and Austin Studdard is hereby recognized by his school and our state as one of the 2016 Young Heroes of Alabama.

Young Hero Sponsors

The Young Heroes Program is made possible through the support of:

Derek Chen

Harris Trust


APT Educational News in your Inbox

Stay in the loop by signing up for the APT Education monthly newsletter.
Get all the latest news, parenting tips and educational resources for FREE! Unsubscribe easily anytime.

Need Help
Contact APT Education


These educational programs and services of Alabama Public Television made possible by the generous support of the following contributors:

Community Events & Engagement
  • Books-A-Million, Young Heroes
  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama, Be My Neighbor Day/Young Heroes
  • Brookmont Capital Management, Young Heroes
  • C. W. Daniel Charitable Trust, Young Heroes
  • Medical Properties Trust, Young Heroes
  • Fred Rogers Productions/PNC, Be My Neighbor Day
  • WNET-CPB, Sesame Street in Communities
General Support
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)
  • Public Broadcasting Services (PBS)
Learning Adventures
  • Alabama Bicentennial Commission
  • Alabama Humanities Foundation
    a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Alabama State Council on the Arts
    a state program of the National Endowment for the Arts
  • American Graduate
    a program of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting
  • Daniel Foundation of Alabama
  • Malone Family Foundation
  • Robert Meyer Foundation
  • Sybil Smith Foundation
  • Troy Univiersity
  • U.S. Space & Rocket Center
  • Wells Fargo Foundation
Media Library
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting, American Graduate
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting, American Graduate, Getting To Work
PBS Kids Programs
  • Alabama Department of Human Resources
  • Alabama Power Company
  • Books-A-Million
  • Children’s of Alabama
  • HEAL Alabama
  • Medical Properties Trust
  • U.S. Space & Rocket Center
Professional Development for Educators
  • Community Foundation of South Alabama, PBS KIDS EdCamp
  • Sybil Smith Foundation, PBS KIDS EdCamp
Workforce Development
  • CAWACO, Career Forward
  • Southeast Alabama Works, Career Forward

Skip to content