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Family, friends and the community fill a Dundalk hall to raise money for Team Austin

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Posted at 5:45 PM, Oct 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-04 18:33:52-04

DUNDALK, Md. — Two years ago, John Willey and his friends were at a pool hall when they came up with a few ideas to fundraise for his nephew.

John’s friends supported his ideas and encouraged him to move forward with them. His wife, Heather Willey, presented another idea, she used to be a vender for quarter auctions for various organizations.

For the second year, John and Heather Willey held a quarter auction at The Democratic Club in Dundalk to raise money for their 18-year-old nephew Austin Willey.

Austin is on the severe end of the spectrum. He is non-verbal and sometimes he uses equipment to help him communicate. It’s one of many things he receives from Autism Speaks to help him through his daily life.

The purpose of the auction is to raise money for ‘Team Austin’ for the Autism Speaks Walk. The biggest crowd so far, friends, family and local businesses pitched in to support Austin with baskets to be auctioned off. The money made from the baskets will got toward Autism Speaks.

“The money is great that we’re donating and for the causes and to support this stuff, but the awareness of it is the bigger picture.” said Austin’s Aunt, Heather Willey.

At the end of the night, ‘Team Austin’ has raised almost $4,000 in quarters and cash. The total amount, including the other fundraisers, $5,792.95. According to Heather, the team’s goal was to raise $5,000.

A goal that was met.

“I know everybody here, is here for Austin because they love Austin. They support him, support our charity, support Autism Speaks.” said Heather. “Everybody knows Austin and loves him and do the best for him by raising this money.”

‘Team Austin’ has another goal. The team is aiming to become a top fundraiser at the walk, that will earn them plaque. Austin’s aunt said, with Austin being non-verbal he loves to have his plaques and rub his finger across his name

This will be Austin’s twelfth year participating in the walk. His uncle, John, has been taking him every year. Then, last year, John asked others to join them in the walk. Austin’s mother, Bobbie Jo Randall said she was truly shocked to know that they (John and Austin) have been doing the walk for years.

“I had no idea. No idea they have been doing this the whole time.” said Randall. “The support Austin has lets me know, that if anything happens to me, he will be safe