SPRINGFIELD, Oregon — Most people leave their pumpkins out for a few days after Halloween, but those living in one Springfield neighborhood aren't most people.
For them, November 1 was the perfect time to hear caroling bells, see houses decked in lights, feel snowflakes and taste hot cocoa. They weren't waiting two more months for Christmas because 9-year-old Austin may not have two more months to live. The Springfield boy is battling a nervous system disorder.
“Christmas is his favorite time of the year,” said Austin’s mom, Bonnie. “We knew as his time was coming closer to an end and he probably wasn't going to make it to Christmas, that we wanted Christmas to come early for this little boy.”
Make-A-Wish Oregon helped Austin's family make that wish come true. They organized a neighborhood Christmas celebration on Sunday with everything from a hot cocoa bar to a snow machine. Neighbors decorated their homes with Christmas lights which will shine on for Austin to enjoy every night that he's able to.
“I get teary-eyed just driving down the street,” said Bonnie. “To watch Austin enjoy this has been both very joyful and hard at the same time.”
From homes in Springfield to Portland and California to Florida, people are responding to Austin's wish. They're stringing up lights and posting photos, and sending handmade Christmas cards to his home.
“As word is spreading about this wish it's been really powerful to see our community rallying behind him,” said Kaitlyn Bolduc of Make-A-Wish Oregon. “Just forgetting about everything else for a moment and doing all that they can to make sure that this boy feels loved and knows that the community sees him and supports him."
Santa himself rode in on a Springfield fire engine as neighbors surrounded Austin with love.
“Merry Christmas, Austin!” shouted one woman during the celebration. “You're so loved! You’re so loved!”
Who knew Christmas would ever fall between Halloween and Election Day, and who knew a wish would bring joy to the world when the world could really use it.
“When so many things feel broken this year, to see our community and our neighborhood come together and support each other," said Bonnie. "I just feel it's so magical.”
Those who'd like to send Austin a Christmas card can mail it to: Austin’s Wish 5729 Main St. #150 Springfield, OR, 97478.