Fundraiser on Friday for teen amputee who shares story with veterans
SALISBURY — At age 7, Andrew Hastings lost his leg after he was hit by a car.
Today, he’s got a prosthetic leg, and he’s mobile — even able to play football and baseball — thanks to generosity from friends and neighbors.
At the same time, Andrew is working to give something back to the community.
Now 13, Andrew is sharing his story with local churches and veterans at Salisbury’s Hefner VA Medical Center. In a phone interview Tuesday, Andrew said that his outreach to veterans at the Salisbury VA started in 2009, “when my grandpa had to have surgery done there.”
He told the story of seeing a younger veteran, “about 19 or 20,” who had been injured.
After asking the nurse’s permission, Andrew said, he went to talk to the serviceman, who was also an amputee.
“He was real down, and I just really tried to inspire him,” Andrew said.
Since then, Barbara Hastings said her son has revisted the Salisbury VA regularly.
He also visits area rest homes, and speaks to local churches to share his testimony, Barbara said.
Since the original accident, Barbara said, Andrew has had 10 surgeries and will need another this year.
As he continues to grow, she said, he will continue to need updated prosthetics not only to walk, but to remain active in sports and other activities.
She said her son tries to fill his time, as a way thanking those who gave to him.
Speaking to veterans also has a personal connection.
His father, Sergeant Robert Hastings, is preparing for overseas deployment with the Army National Guard’s 210th Military Police Company, based in Franklin.
They were in Asheville on Tuesday for the unit’s pre-deployment “Yellow Ribbon” ceremony and family briefings.
When he visits veterans who are amputees, Andrew talks about what they have in common.
He said he tries to bring them up, and encourage them. “I love to change people’s attitudes to a positive from a negative,” he said.
Barbara added, “One quote Andrew uses when he talks to vets about losing their legs is, ‘It’s not the end of the world, just a change in the world.’”
“He tells them they can do anything they did before, just maybe a little different than before,” she said.
The community’s generosity has also helped him play softball and baseball.
Hastings, who is home-schooled, played football last season with the Pioneer League’s Cabarrus Stallions.
Playing football with a prosthetic leg meant special precautions and special permission — not just for her son’s safety, Elizabeth said, but for other players’ safety as well.
For Andrew, the community’s gifts were the difference between a prosthetic leg that would help him walk, and a high-performance prosthetic that would allow him to play sports.
“I mean, it felt amazing to be able to get out there with the leg the community helped me get,” Andrew said.
“You have to run, jump, twist and turn, and I wouldn’t have been able to do that without the fundraiser and community support.”
They also shared fond memories of meeting Joe Gibbs during the playoffs.
Andrew said his late grandfather was a big Washington Redskins fan, and that meeting Gibbs — former Redskins coach and current NASCAR team owner — “made me feel like my grandfather was smiling down on me.”
Elizabeth Hastings said about 900 barbecue plates were sold at last year’s Port-a-Pit fundraiser, and they hope to meet or exceed that amount.
This year, she said, the dinners can be preordered by e-mail. Send the name and number of dinners ordered to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preorders can also be placed by phone with Peggy Fisher at 704-640-7939.
The Port-a-Pit fundraiser will be held Friday, April 19th from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 223 N. Fulton St. Salisbury.