Commentary: Some things I dont know, some things I do
By Joe Williams, Sports Editor
I don’t know Hunter Garstin. I never saw him wrestle, because I honestly don’t “know” wrestling. Until Centennial wrestler Nick Patton’s dad, one of my best friends and an expert, started educating me a couple of years ago, I didn’t know the difference between a take down and take out.
When Garstin was injured a few weeks ago in a match in Huntsville, I didn’t know how the family, coaches and friends must have felt; I’ve never had to face that serious a situation with a sports injury. I really didn’t know how to cover the story.
But I do know three things: young athletes, Williamson County and the power of prayer.
Hunter is 15 years old and, like most teenagers, probably felt invincible before a neck injury left him in a hospital bed four hours from home at the Shepherd Rehabilitation Center in Atlanta.
According to posts by his mother, a Williamson County Schools kindergarten teacher, to the Facebook page “Prayers for Hunter Garstin”, what was once catastrophic is showing improvement. He’s moving his arms and regaining feeling in his feet.
I lay a great deal of that improvement to Hunter. Athletes by nature are fighters, and he continues to show that he belongs in that fraternity for all the right reasons; he’s fighting, both physically and mentally, both convinced and determined that he will walk the halls at Independence again with his friends.
The other thing Hunter is exemplifying, in my mind, is courage. I never considered playing that courageous, but that was thirty years ago.
High school athletes today are so much bigger and faster than I ever faced (or dreamed to be) and the fact the freshman would step into the circle to compete one-on-one says a great deal to me.
The other thing I know is Williamson County, and how the people here respond to sudden and drastic situations. From the moment of the injury there has been an outpouring of desire to help.
The Facebook page was hoping for 1,000 “likes”; it is now over 15,000.
Families have donated dollars, food and time—even free hotel rooms from travel and credit card miles.
The offers have included benefit concerts. T-shirts are on sale now, as are arm bands. All are branded with the hottest hash tag in the area: #Hunterstrong.
A fundraising effort on fundrazr.com reached over half its goal in less than five days; restaurants are lining up to have nights honoring Hunter and donating a portion of the proceeds.
Individual cash donations can be made at any SunTrust Bank and Independence is accepting gift cards and pre-paid cards at the main office. All are growing.
I know you can help by sending Hunter a card or letter, as opening envelopes helps work on fine motor skills. Send your notes of encouragement to: Garstin Family c/o The Shepherd Center, WFRC #007, 2020 Peachtree Road NW, Atlanta, GA, 30309.
Finally, I know there is a kid, a young man, who won’t be home for Christmas this year, who is schooling me in courage, grit and determination. How can I not support him by honoring the family’s simple request and continue to offer prayers for Hunter Garstin.
Joe Williams is sports editor for the Williamson Herald. He can be reached by email at
Posted on: 12/26/2013