Benefit planned for 4-year-old leukemia patient, Austyn Halter

Published 11:36 am Friday, July 7, 2017

Austyn Halter, 4, has bravely battled a rare form of leukemia for the past two years and on July 15 the community will come together for a benefit.

The Benefit for Austyn Halter will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Neches Brewing Company, 1108 Port Neches Ave., Port Neches.

Chelsea Fountain, marketing and event director for the Brewery, said the owners have followed Austyn’s story via Facebook and wanted to do something special for the little girl.

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Port Neches Avenue will be shut down from Nall to Montgomery and there will be food trucks, food vendors and other sellers up and down the avenue.

There will also be cooling stations with portable fans to help with the Southeast Texas heat.

In addition, there will be a silent auction with items such as rounds of golf, Astros tickets and gift cards from various local businesses and more and live music.

Austyn Halter, the daughter of Sarah and Josh Halter, was diagnosed with acute megakaryoblastic leukemia on Aug. 17, 2015 at the age of two. She underwent six rounds of intense chemotherapy at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston over nine months.

Unfortunately, she never reached remission and her parents desperately started looking for other treatment options. She was accepted to a protocol and flown to Memphis, Tennessee on May 15, 2016 to begin treatment at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and on June 9, 2016 she received a stem cell transplant form her mother. News of remission came on July 1, 2016 but six months later, on Dec. 6, 2016, the family learned the devastating news that Austyn had relapsed.

Locals may be familiar with Austyn’s parents who lived in Orangefield until the disease struck. Sarah is a nurse who had worked in the family birth center and neonatal unit at Christus Hospital-St. Mary and Josh worked in construction.

Rachel Olsen, Austyn’s aunt, said the family sold their Orangefield home because they were no longer living there are currently live at Target House — a long term lodging facility located three miles from the research hospital.

She said the family is forever grateful for the benefits that occur to aid the family.

“They say all the time how thankful they are,” Olson said.

Even though they have a place to stay they still incur bills, need to eat, pay for cellphones and other necessary expenses.

The Facebook page #AustynStrong has more than 15,300 members who keep up with posts mostly by Sarah Halter, Austyn’s mom.

“She (Austyn) feels really good,” Olson said. “On the Fourth of July they met with some friends and were able to sit and watch fireworks and visited with some family members.”

According to her mother, some days are good, others not so. Sarah Halter has opened her heart in her posts and through this medium followers have watched Austyn as a princess complete with gown and tiara and as a warrior smiling while hooked to various medical equipment. Most of her young life has been spent in the hospital. There are smiles and big bows and a little girl with blonde hair cradling a baby doll or stuffed bear.

Recently there was a post of Austyn wearing big, floppy, patriotic red, white and blue hat.

Just a few weeks ago Sarah began her post with “Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant what I hope for.” — Job 6:8. She wrote that Austyn was feeling good and had a chance to have some fun painting making pottery, going to a drive-in movie to see “Wonder Woman” and paint a salt dough banner crafts for the Fourth of July.

Behind the smile is a little girl who some days has a hard time keeping medications down because, her mother writes, her belly was severely damaged due a combination of multiple rounds of chemo, transplant, infection and Graft vs Host Disease.

And, Sarah declared triumphantly on Facebook, Austyn’s hair is now long enough for some little pigtails.

“Please continue to pray for complete healing…and for more good days. Please keep praying for our miracle girl,” the mother said in the Facebook post.

Here’s the schedule:

  • Car show registration is at 9 a.m. Event will be held at the paring lot across from the brewery from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Washer tournament registration is at 2 p.m. with the tourney starting at 4 p.m.

Live music line-up includes:

  • Noon to 1 p.m. — Thomas Teague
  • 1 to 2 p.m. — Blake Sticker
  • 2 to 3 p.m. — Wes Hardin
  • 3 to 4 p.m. — Pug Johnson
  • 4 to 5 p.m. — Cody Schaffer
  • 5 to 6 p.m. — Alex Rozell

For more information about the benefit, to volunteer or donate an item for auction, call Chelsea at Neches Brewing Company at 790-4169 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.