Sacrifice, Failure, Resilience & Excellence

Paralympian swimming gold medalist speaks

Evan Austin, 2021 Paralympian swimming gold medalist, who has HSP, spoke at Ivy Tech Community College as part of its Disability Awareness Month celebration. The audience included fourth-graders as well as Ivy Tech employees, students and community members.

Evan Austin has HSP

Austin’s talk was titled, “The Wait of Gold: Sacrifice, Failure, and Resilience in the Lifelong Pursuit of Excellence.”

A three-time Paralympic swimmer for Team USA, he competed in the London 2012, Rio de Janeiro 2016 and Tokyo 2021 Paralympic Games. He was team captain in Tokyo, where he became a gold and bronze medalist.

Austin was born with HSP, so he knows what it is like to overcome adversities and challenges that come with having a physical disability.

Evan with gold medal

But through perseverance, hard work and the support of others, on Sept. 3, 2021, “I got to live my dream,” he told the audience. He showed them the video of his winning gold in the 50-meter butterfly in Tokyo.

A lot of things in life are that way, said Austin, an Indiana State University graduate. “The effort, energy and work you put in determines the level of success, triumph and positivity you get out of it.”

But he also chronicled for his young audience the many setbacks to eventually achieving gold — not making Team USA at age 15, then making the Paralympics but not winning any medals. He talked about how devastated he felt with those setbacks.

But during those times, there were people who lifted him back up.

“I was never alone on my journey, and the days I didn’t believe in myself and didn’t know if I was capable, I had so many people so deeply in my corner,” he said. “I never lost belief in their belief in me.”

He’s proud of his gold medal, but he’s also glad “I get to share my medal with the people that were on that journey with me,” Austin said.

He encouraged the young students to dream and set goals. The hills and valleys, the failures and successes, are all part of the process. “It all makes you who you are,” he said.

He also works full-time as a development officer for the Ability Experience, a nonprofit philanthropic initiative of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. Its mission is to create shared experiences between members of the disability community and members of the fraternity.

He also is preparing for a large philanthropic cycling trip called Gear Up Florida, which is in May. He will cycle 955 miles across Florida.

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SOURCE: The Tribune-Star, Terre Haute, Ind., March 23, 2023

‘The Wait of Gold’ Evan Austin speaks at Ivy Tech

By Sue Loughlin

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