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Local child gets surprise message from favorite TV stars

Adams County Christian School fifth-grader Austin Dungan, center, receives a surprise personal video message from the stars of his favorite TV show, “Finding Bigfoot,” on Animal Planet. Austin’s dad, Derrick, left, his mother Jennifer laugh as Austin reacts to the message. (Photo by Emily Lane \ The Natchez Democrat)

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Before this week, Austin Dungan was just a fan, but now he’s an official “Friend of the Squatch.”

Some of the stars of the TV show Finding Bigfoot on Animal Planet recently learned about Adams County Christian School fifth-grader Dungan and his lifelong struggle with a congenital heart disease. An article in the May 13 edition of The Natchez Democrat told the story of the Dungan family’s efforts to raise money to send Austin to Boston for a complicated fourth heart surgery.

The story also mentioned Dungan’s love for the TV show and his own attempts to search for Sasquatch near his Adams County home.

The show’s stars, Cliff Barackman, Matt Moneymaker, Ranae Holland and James “Bobo” Fay, got wind through an Internet link to The Democrat’s story of Dungan’s challenges and his “obsession” with finding Bigfoot, as his mother, Jennifer put it.

The stars recently took a minute from their busy schedule of searching for Sasquatch in Australia to film a video message to Austin.

Austin got a surprise Monday when he sat down to view the mystery message.

“Whoa,” Austin said, bug-eyed, after Bobo started the message with, “What’s up, Austin … I hear you’re one tough kid, and you’re my hero.”

“That’s cool,” Austin said.

Holland tells Austin to get well soon, so he can find bigfoot with them; Moneymaker encourages Austin to keep up his howls on his front porch to attract the mythical monster and Barackman tells him to remember that if Austin believes in Bigfoot, Bigfoot believes in Austin.

Austin smiled big, and his parents did too, as he viewed the personalized message. Once it sunk in, he was grabbing for his parents’ cell phones to call his friends and tell them.

Jennifer said she has been waiting on the call to find out when the surgery will be scheduled, which will likely be in June.

The Dungans made sure the message was loaded up on their cell phones in order for Austin to show it off to all of his friends and family.