Austin Holbrook is one of Lucas High School's most courageous students, according to principal Eric Teague.
"In the time that I have known Austin, he has continually shown himself to be a young man worthy of admiration," Teague wrote in his McGowan Courage Award nomination letter. "He is a great student, a talented and driven athlete, and most importantly, a wonderful person despite to obstacles that he encountered in his youth."
Austin endured a challenging upbringing as the child of a mother whose life choices led to drug abuse, prostitution and repeated physical abuse on her four children. At the age of 7, Austin and his siblings found themselves living in the back office of a truck rental agency. They bounced around from place to place frequently, until they later went into foster care.
There, they met their foster parents, Kelly and Earl Holbrook. It was during this time that Austin's mother, who had left them in that back office when she went to Los Angeles with a boyfriend, made a final visit to Austin and his siblings. After seven months, Austin and his siblings were moved again -- this time to Maine, where they lived with an aunt for about six months before returning to foster care and eventually back to the Holbrook household.
Fast forward a year-and-a-half, the world changed for Austin and his siblings, as the Holbrooks adopted all four of them.
"Nearly 11 years later, Austin has flourished with the Holbrooks as he realized that he was able to reclaim his life," Teague wrote. "Today, Austin is a multi-sport letter winner in football, wrestling, and track and field, and the best office aide you could ask for."
Teague described Austin as both helpful and respectful.
"He is a natural leader who uses both his example and his words to push others to achieve their full potential," Teague wrote.
Austin said it's an honor to be nominated for the McGowan Courage Award, adding, "I would have never been able to be the man I am today without my parents."
"We are so proud of Austin and his nomination for this prestigious award," Kelly said. "He came into our lives at the age of 7, overcoming his modest beginning to flourish into a very kind, respectful and extra helpful gentleman.
"We are so proud of the man he has become. He has blessed our life in so many ways."
The Rotary McGowan Courage Award is supported by these sponsors: OhioHealth, Richland Bank, Haring Realty, Mechanics Bank, Gorman Rupp, North Central State College, Richland Source, Shelby Rotary Club, The Ohio State University at Mansfield, Mansfield Art Center, The Renaissance Theatre, Snyder Funeral Home, Hamilton Insurance Group, Mansfield Area Y, Richland Area Chamber & Economic Development, Mansfield Memorial Homes, Buckeye Horizon, Chuck Warner & Associates, Baker's Collision Repair, Catalyst Life Services, Miller's Diamond Jewelry, Scott and Adena King, Charles Cook, Jon Young, Dan Phallen, Gary Stroup, Harold Davis, Steve Cummins, Karen Redfearn, Scott and Mary Young, Betty Preston, Pam Sigenthaler, Melanie Riggleman, DJ Daniels, Win Meek, Walt Chaffee, Pat Chilcote, and David Crawford.