Community rallies to support teen

PLYMOUTH — Austin Schoff, the 18 year old Plymouth High School student who was struck by another Plymouth teen on Michigan Road Feb. 17, has been removed from ICU at Memorial Hospital, South Bend.
Says mom, Kathy Jo Schoff, “Austin is making huge strides considering the damage that has been done.”
She said that on day five, the intracranial pressure valve was removed from his brain and the sedative was turned off.
“Day six, the ventilator was removed and he began breathing successfully on his own,” she said.
One week after the accident, Austin was moved from ICU. An ICU nurse came in Austin’s room “and pinched and prodded him while asking him to open his eyes and he did!” she said. “He blinked for the first time since the accident 10 days ago.”
Kathy said it gives her and husband Billy great joy to see the progress. “It was wonderful to look into his eyes if only for a brief moment,” she said. “God has truly carried us through this terrible journey with him. We are praying and believing for a full recovery.”
Surgery on Austin’s clavicle break is scheduled today. There have been moments where he has opened his eyes briefly, and is currently being seen by physical therapists. Yesterday, while sitting up, Austin twirled his mother’s hair while she helped the PT, even though he has not fully awakened.
A good friend of the Schoff’s, Shanda Stevens, is organizing a fundraiser for T-shirt sales, which are available for a minimum donation of $15. The black shirt reads “Team Austin” in purple lettering — Austin’s favorite color. Stevens said she got the idea for the shirts after seeing “Team Tebow” shirts.
“I joked with my husband, I’m not Team Tebow right now, I’m Team Austin,” said Stevens. “And that was it— it went on the shirts.”
All proceeds from the shirt sales will go toward the Schoff’s medical bills.
Checks should be made to “Benefit for Austin Schoff.” An account has been opened at Key bank under that title.
Stevens said, “The T-Shirt Shack is graciously donating their time and giving us a huge discount all to benefit the Schoff family!”
Email her at stevensm@grace.edu or call 574-780-3152 for orders. There will be someone at the Plymouth library Saturday at noon to take orders.
Also helping the Schoff cause was the PHS band and choir. A student-oriented fundraiser — headed up by Tyler Switzer — took up a collection after last Sunday’s concert to help the family with their medical expenses.
“State solo and ensemble was the day after the accident happened,” Switzer said. Austin, who isn’t in band or choir, “has been a friend of mine and a couple other people’s friend since junior high, he’s just a part of the group. We realized this was much more intense, this guy and his parents will be living at the hospital so they needed all the help they could get.”
“Switzer spoke to the audience about the accident and the Schoff family and asked the audience for donations,” said band director Bryan Ames. “The total collected was slightly more than $1,100.”
Switzer said, “We didn’t really know how much we would collect; we would have been happy with whatever we got. We expected maybe $200. But when we realized we had more than $1,000, we were just stoked!”
Ames continued, “Kudos to all of the students and parents of the music department for such a generous gift!”

Staff Writer Lydia Beers contributed to this article.