It's the time of the year where we all want things, former East Ridge assistant coach Austin Roden is no different, but he wants things that you can't find in an overcrowded store with a marked down price tags. His wants are priceless and selfless.
Austin wanted to live, he survived cancer twice. Austin now simply wants to inspire and he needs your help.
What is cancer?
SIGN THE LETTER: Here
Austin Roden said, "they say it's the closest to death you'll ever experience."
Cancer is sometimes death's doorstep.
Austin said, "You're just stuck in a room, you're wondering if you're even going to make it."
It's sleepless nights, unmotivated days, it's scars, it's chemo, it's stem cell transplants.
"You're throwing up, mind in a different place, depressed one second, happy the next," said Austin.
It's been the past five years for former Austin Roden.
Austin said, "How this all happened at 20-years old. One day I'm healthy, the next I'm having brain surgery."
Five years, two knockdown drag out bouts with brain cancer.
Austin no longer fears death, but the side effects have left him with little long term employment options. He can't work with computers, the screens cause migraines and a slew of other problems.
So he waits tables, for now that is.
Enter Heidi Burkhart, a New York philanthropist but more importantly the brains behind the "Blank Cancer" campaign.
Burkhart said, "Austin to me is someone that represents strength, resilience, hope to other cancer fighters that you can defeat it, you can fight."
Heidi bought in, Austin is now an ambassador for Blank Cancer, the plan is for Austin to share his message of fight, faith and determination with others.
"I want to take on the challenge of helping a world of people not just a city of people," said Austin.
Here's where you come in. Blank Cancer has connections with both the NBA and the NFL Heidi is pushing to have Austin share his message at league games and events. You can show your support with a simple email to Heidi (Hburkhart@saxonhart.com) those emails will find their way to both the NFL and NBA front offices.
Heidi said, "You guys have demonstrated so many times, you are a loud noise when you guys unite together. That's what I love about Chattanooga. I'm just hoping to God that you will support Austin to do that much more, live his dream and inspire."
It's not everyday you meet a two-time brain cancer survivor under the age of 25. Austin's clearly still alive for a reason and now more than ever, he believes that reason is to inspire someone, anyone faced with even part of what he battled.
Austin said, "Just give me the opportunity and see where i can take it. I'm only one but I am one. It's a saying my dad told me, always stuck in my head. I'm only one but i am one. If one person can do it, maybe 10 can follow."
To make it easier to support Austin, Heidi has a written letter to both NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, you can simply download it, sign it and send it to Heidi at Hburkhart@saxonhart.com.