Community rallies behind bullying victim with autism
The Pennsylvania boy who was a victim of an apparent hazing incident this month has gotten a lot of support as the community and world have learned about his story.
Austin Babinsack, 16, was found duct-taped to a soccer goalpost, an act allegedly perpetrated by two of his teammates on the soccer team at Highlands High School in Natrona Heights, Pa. The students and the coach of the team, Jim Turner, were reportedly suspended for at least five days. (Turner is not believed to have taken part in the act.)
Though Babinsack, who has autism, has been subject to some ridicule on social media, he's seen much greater support from his local community and even from around the world, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
On Sunday afternoon, two local charitable organizations, K-Dog's Kidz and We Are Family, organized a motorcycle rally for Babinsack in which he got to ride along in a sidecar.
“We wanted to show him that he has friends, and a lot of them,” said Don Rozman, the founder of K-Dog's Kidz. “There are people here who love him and care for him. Bullying has no place in school, and it really bothered me to see that some people didn't support him.”
The two groups also plan to organize another ride for Babinsack in which he'll get to ride in a black-and-yellow Chevrolet Camaro, an allusion to the "Transformers" films, of which Babinsack is a fan.
Babinsack's mother, Kristie, said people from places such as Japan, Indonesia and Brazil have reached out to offer their support, and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, a USL Pro team, have invited Babinsack to participate in a practice on Wednesday.
“The situation is what it is,” said Austin's father John. “We're very appreciative, though, of all the people who have gone out of their way to support Austin. It's been huge for him during a tough time.”
Babinsack returned to school last week with a limited schedule.
- Ben Estes