#wyostrong: “You don’t expect something like this…”
“At 27 years old with a brand new family you don’t expect something like this to hit your family, but it does.”
Cancer. At some level, it’s touched all of us.
Austin Coyle is from Riverton and was diagnosed on May 18th this year. His wife gave birth to their first child on June 20th and then the surgeries started on July 11th.
A new baby is enough for any family, but to have a new diagnosis, treatment plans, bills and an uncertain future added on top is more than most can bear.
Fortunately, here in Fremont County, hard times bring out the best in the people around us. Friends, family and the community rallied around Austin and his family.
“I work for Pepsi and we’re all a pretty close-knit group of people. So when they found out I was diagnosed with cancer they got together with Smith’s and set up a fundraiser.”
It was a complete surprise to Austin to find out that a Smoke Off BBQ competition had been organized for him this summer in the Smith’s parking lot. Numerous vendors and individuals came and smoked chicken and pork for people. Others set up a raffle and many, many more came and ate to show their support.
Austin tried to find the words to express what the event meant to him.
“I mostly just want to get out there how much I really appreciate everyone who helped set this up and everyone who came. It’s an extremely humbling feeling seeing the amount of people that came up to support me and my family and it’s something I’ll never forget. I can never thank everyone enough for the support they have given me.”
The fundraiser raised around $7500 to help Austin and his family with expenses.
For better or worse, Austin’s story and words aren’t unfamiliar. That’s why our community is #wyostrong.
These stories are unfolding across Fremont County every week as neighbors help neighbors in times of need. The turn out for events like the Tough Enough to Wear Pink night at the Fair help families at scale across our area, but the smaller events that bring people together are almost more impressive.
Spaghetti dinners, raffles, t-shirt sales, dances and all form of fundraisers are organized almost every weekend it seems by friends and family to support each other.
Some tragic battles have been lost, but have gone beyond fundraisers into really bringing the community closer together. Others are still fighting, and the community keeps finding new ways to make life special and support them.
When someone visits this community and says “there’s something special here,” it’s not our mountains, views or recreation opportunities they’re talking about. It’s the people.
It’s Austin and his family, his co-workers, friends, family and all the people that supported his surprise fundraiser – and it’s all the others that play out this familiar story around Fremont County to help each other.
That’s what we do here. It’s who we are. We’re #wyostrong.