Austin's bio in his words.
Hi, my name is Austin Dirk. I acquired my disability 23 years ago, after being born 12 weeks premature on April 22, 1999. My birth and 4-month hospital stay were very significant events that shaped the young man I am today. Due to my early entrance into the world, my brain did not receive enough oxygen, which resulted in Cerebral Palsy. During my time in the Sioux Falls, SD Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, I fought quite a few illnesses and battles, but I overcame those obstacles and finally went home to my family.
I grew up on a small acreage near Vale, SD, with parents, younger siblings, and a variety of farm animals. My family is very active, and they try not to let my disability get in the way. I enjoy riding horses, camping, fishing, and spending time outside. Additionally, I like being active, watching rodeos, going to the movies, and hanging out with friends. I also travel around the state with my parents and attend livestock sales with my family for my father’s job.
During my childhood and adolescence, I had many minor surgeries and two major surgeries to release the muscle tone in my legs and correct the other abnormalities, which involved cutting my hamstrings, moving kneecaps, and breaking and rotating both ankles. After these surgeries, I would be laid up for several weeks, as well as needing to go through extensive rehab. These major life events were very challenging for me. Because of my disability, I have also gone to physical and occupational therapy for most of my life.
In high school, I was able to be the boys’ basketball student manager. I enjoyed this position, where I could cheer everyone on and be a part of a team. Throughout high school, I also enjoyed competing on a horse at a local rodeo series, showing a sheep in 4H at the county fair, and being a member of the local FFA chapter.
One of my favorite memories was going deer hunting with my family. I was fortunate to use the Action Track powered wheelchair provided by the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks Department along with South Dakota Youth Hunting Adventures. The chair allowed me to go hunting with my family and enjoy the outdoors with them.
If I were able to get a Track chair, it would give me so much more freedom.
I would be able to do more activities with my family. I could go on more walks when we go camping. I would be able to go hunting. I could go out to the pasture and catch my horse myself instead of waiting for my family to do this; with my wheelchair, I cannot do this as it gets stuck in the pasture. I am extremely limited in winter as my current wheelchair has no traction in the snow or mud, limiting my outdoor activities. Having a track chair would raise my self-esteem as I could do this independently instead of having someone do it for me. It would also give me more freedom to do more activities on my own. Ever since the first time I borrowed the chair from the SD Game Fish and Parks, I have wanted to purchase one but was unable to due to my finances.
I am motivated and doing more physical therapy at this time in my life as I want to get stronger to help me gain more independence and the ability to be able to work more hours. I enjoy my motivational podcasts and aim to create a podcast/motivational book to inspire others and become a life coach.
I have learned that you need to work hard to achieve your goals.
My goal is always to work hard to ensure that you stay ahead and do not fall behind. My goal is also to be the best version of myself and never let my disability win or decrease my abilities or expectations of myself.