Making wishes come true

Published 12:28 am Sunday, December 16, 2007

VIDALIA — Life hasn’t been easy for 7-year-old Austin Dungan, but don’t tell him that.

He was born with truncus arteriosus, a heart defect requiring surgery to separate blood flow to the body from the blood flow to the lungs.

He has had three such surgeries and will need more as his body grows.

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At 13 months old, he had his left leg amputated because he was born without a bone in his lower leg.

“We don’t use the handicap word,” Austin’s mother Jennifer Dungan said. “He is a normal kid that likes to play and be outside.”

With that in mind, Austin and his father Derrick got family friend Jimmy “Jim Bob” Allgood of Redneck Adventures to put together a hunt.

“I just started making phone calls,” Allgood said. “Once everyone knew what were doing, it came together pretty quick.”

Allgood contacted Kirk Thomas, co-founder of Outdoors Without Limits.

Thomas knows all too well about living with a disability.

He was paralyzed while heading back to his truck after deer hunting by a falling tree.

“He is a wonderful person,” Jennifer said. “He doesn’t let anything slow him down. He just picked Austin up and was determined to help him kill his first deer.”

The hunt was set for Dec. 6 at Rifle Point Plantation in Concordia Parish.

“It was an awesome hunt,” Austin said. “We didn’t see anything that morning, so we went back that afternoon.”

Jennifer said she felt like Thomas would have stayed another night if Austin wouldn’t have killed a deer that day.

In the box with Austin were his dad, Allgood, Thomas and his uncle Vick Brown.

“My heart was beating really fast,” Austin said. “The buck came out first, then a doe. I was shaking.”

While his father was whispering in his hear, Austin pulled the trigger of the .223 rifle.

“My dad was asking me if I could hit,” Austin said. “I shot it in the shoulder.”

After delivering the kill shot to the 5-point buck, Austin turned to his father and said, “I smoked it dad.”

Once they tracked down the deer, Austin said he was so excited he let out a scream.

“I was proud,” he said. “Nobody helped me. I killed it all by myself.”

Austin’s day wasn’t quite over.

Once they returned to the hunting lodge, Joey Turner, Mark Hester and Jacob Pearson from AmpuCare presented Austin with a new prosthetic leg.

“I was real happy,” Austin said. “My new leg is camouflage and has a LSU sticker on it.”

Jennifer said hunting is in Austin’s blood now.

“He definitely has buck fever now,” she said. “He’s ready to go back to get another one.”