Manatee County community of Palmetto rallies around injured man - FOX 13 News

Manatee County community of Palmetto rallies around injured young man

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Austin Praught injured his neck in a vehicle crash on New Year's Day in Tallahassee. Austin Praught injured his neck in a vehicle crash on New Year's Day in Tallahassee.

Manatee County resident Austin Praught calls himself – The Honey Badger – and the nickname is fitting.

The 21-year-old Palmetto High School graduate went through a life-altering experience earlier this year. It was an incident that damaged his body but his mind and spirit are still very strong.

"Honey Badger doesn't care because he's going to win the fight against this," explains Austin's father Joseph.

On New Year's Day Austin was riding around with a buddy in Tallahassee when tragedy struck. It was very foggy and Austin and his friend missed a marker in the roadway.

The Florida State University junior's vehicle went over an embankment and flipped several times. It took emergency service personnel a couple of hours to free Austin from the wreckage.

It took the ‘Jaws of Life,' to pry him from the vehicle. Austin was luck to be alive but his neck and the life he knew were shattered.

"When I first got injured I was paralyzed from the neck down," Austin said Saturday afternoon at a fund-raising event held in his honor. "Now I'm getting [some] shoulder and arm movement."

Rehabilitation exercises and medical treatment for his injuries have been tough and expensive. Family, friends and other members of the community showed up at Palmetto VFW Post 2488 for good food and good entertainment for a good cause.

More than 200 came out to support Austin and his family.

"It's been real rough on the family, especially Austin," Dad Joe Praught added. "He's got such a great attitude, it makes in easier on everybody."

Scott King, one of Austin's cousins, was among the first to arrive shortly after the noon event kicked off.

"Everyone's coming out to support - we love Austin," Kind said. "He's a great person; he deserves this [event.]"

The turnout at Saturday's event near Sutton Park in Palmetto brought a smile to Austin's face. Keeping a positive attitude has been crucial for his progress.

"You got to be strong. . .  stay positive," he says. "[I] can't be negative about anything. It helps [with] recovery."

His family is hoping to raise at least $10,000 to alleviate costs. Austin has his sights set on becoming a college math teacher.

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