MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - When the FPD Vikings start their 2013 season in the newly renovated George S. Johnson Memorial Stadium Friday night, their playing field will bear a new name.
Austin Childers was born with mitochondrial disease, which essentially zaps away the energy in his body's cells.
"There's not a cure, so you just treat symptoms," says Ashley Childers, Austin's mother. "And the big symptoms at this point are nausea and his severe pain."
Austin graduated from FPD in 2009. He knew he would never make a tackle or score a touchdown for the Vikings. All he wanted to do was be on the team.
"He came to weightlifting, he came to team meetings," says Greg Moore, FPD's football coach and athletic director. "If he was not in the hospital, he came to practice. He came to every game."
"Many, many days though, he was in a wheelchair," says Chris Childers, Austin's dad. "He had his IVs and we would bring him in the wheelchair and put him on the sideline right over there and have his IVs on a pole and he would be part of the team, dragging that IV pole down the sideline... there he goes."
Austin has been under hospice care since April 30 of this year. He hasn't even been out of bed since June, but at 7:30 Friday night, there's a football game at FPD.
Before it starts, the school Austin loves so much will honor him by naming the field "Austin Childers Field," and Austin is scheduled to be there.
"I'm not sure I'll be able to speak, even though I'm supposed to," Moore says. "That'll be tough. It sounds ridiculous, but I think I can probably find a way to suck it up and get through what I'm supposed to get through just by taking a glance over there and seeing my guy there on the stretcher. Surely I'll be able to get through what I'm supposed to say."
FPD's campus will be open for tailgating from 5:30-6:30. The ceremony honoring Austin is set to start at 6:55, and the Vikings take on the George Walton Bulldogs at 7:30.