BURRILLVILLE, Rhode Island (CBS) — Before heading out for a run these days, Austin Prario makes sure the sneakers are snug, and then spends a moment with “the picture.”
It’s a photo of his dad toting him across the Boston Marathon finish line as an infant. It’s all about where the 19-year-old has been–and where he’s going.
“This means everything,” he says. “It’s so surreal to know I’m gonna be running in this race.”
Indeed, Austin is running this year’s marathon for Children’s Hospital, just like his dad did in 1998.
That’s when Austin was in the midst of three open-heart surgeries during his first 18 months of life, and doctors cautioned that he’d likely be smaller, slower, and weaker than other kids.
“And my dad said, ‘No, he’ll be able to run the Boston Marathon someday,'” Austin says.
In elementary school, Austin first tried his hand at cross country–and lost every single race. Sure, he says, that was demoralizing at the time, but now he uses it as inspiration.
“I’m just amazed at what he can do, and it just goes to show you can do anything,” says his mother, Kara Prario.
Despite having only three functioning heart chambers and low blood oxygen, Austin upped the ante in high school, throwing the javelin, playing basketball, and even venturing onto the football field, all under the watchful eye of his cardiologist.
“He wants kids to be able to look at him someday and say you don’t have to accept your limitations, you may not be as fast as someone, but it shouldn’t hold you down from trying,” says Austin’s father, Dave Prario.
As an assistant track coach at North Smithfield High, Austin now humbly shares his journey with other teen athletes.
“I don’t know any different,” he says. “This is who I am.”
But he’ll be running the marathon to honor the doctors who saved him, thank the parents who didn’t coddle him, and motivate other kids like him facing serious health issues.
“That goes through my head every day when I run, and that’s what keeps me going,” Austin says. “Because every day I get to wake up, it’s a privilege.”
On Marathon Monday, Austin hopes to cross the finish line on his own, just like his dad told doctors he someday would.
“Just thinking about it I get emotional,” says Kara. “I’m just so proud of how hard he works. He just doesn’t give up.”
“You couldn’t ask for a better script than something like that,” Dave says.
Even Austin doesn’t know how he’ll react on Boylston Street after 26.2–but you can bet a picture of it will go right next to the one of him and his father.
To support Austin’s run for Boston Children’s Hospital CLICK HERE.