WALTERS, OK (KSWO) - A student who's still in the hospital after being in a car crash right before Christmas was honored at an assembly in Walters on Friday afternoon.
The school christened Friday as "Austin Day," in honor of Austin Benefiel, and most of the students wore orange shirts with his jersey number to let Austin know that they're thinking of him.
During the assembly, students and teachers recited chants. One of the chants encouraged him to stay tough and told him that they missed him. They also sang a song about how they missed him – and a few students spoke about what he means to them.
"We always need to have Austin in mind, we always need to pray for him and we just need to celebrate that he's fighting hard. I miss him right now," classmate Ian Good said.
Austin couldn't make the assembly in person, because he just transferred from a hospital in Dallas to a hospital in Bethany for rehabilitation. However, he was able to video chat with his teacher to surprise his fellow students. Those classmates returned the surprise by singing 'Happy Birthday' to him a week early.
"He is just fabulous, I mean the smile, everything, works hard, does everything that you want him to do," teacher Ginger LeBarre said.
Doctors expected Austin to spend up to twelve weeks in rehab, but now they believe he may be discharged in six to eight weeks.