How Medical Assistant Program Student Helps Fight Cancer with Tacos

Think back to when you were 7 years old—what did you want to be when you grew up? What was your favorite toy? What was your favorite hobby or sport? When you were 7 years old, you probably didn’t have a worry in the world.

This isn’t true for 7-year-old Auston, which is why medical assistant program student, Nicolette Hammer, felt compelled to step in and help. Auston is second-grader at Colman-Egan School and suffers from a rare disease called Neurofibromatosis Type 1.

While children his age are playing outside and only going to the doctor for flu shots or a common cold, Auston has just started chemotherapy. Over the next year, Auston will undergo treatment in hopes to shrink, if not get rid of, three tumors. In addition, Auston has learning disabilities, participates in speech, physical, and occupational therapies, suffers from scoliosis, borderline hypertension, ADHD and has had several surgeries in his short life.

Despite all of this, Auston has a strong and positive spirit. He has a huge smile and loves to help his mom cook. Auston loves to fish and to make tacos.

Nicolette has had a passion for helping people as long as she can remember, which is why she chose the medical assistant program at Globe University-Sioux Falls in July 2010. When Nicolette heard about Auston and his health matters, she wanted to help.

Nicolette Hammer, MA Student

Nicolette Hammer, medical assistant program student

Nicolette organized a fundraiser in Flandreau, S.D. at Eastman Hall. Nicolette worked with Auston and his mom to plan an Indian Taco and Bake Sale. Nicolette worked with her local community of Flandreau to put up flyers around town to help spread the word about Auston, his family and how the community could help.

Word of the event spread quickly and over 400 people attended. The proceeds helped raise funds for Auston’s medical care. For every $1,000 raised, a community member offered to shave his or her head in support of Auston and his cancer journey. Among those who shaved their heads were Auston’s mom, a local doctor and a Medicare coordinator employed at the Urban Indian Health clinic.

Auston’s event raised over $3,500, which will help to pay for his medical and travel expenses. Nicolette was overjoyed.

“I was amazed by the support from this community for such a great cause,” Nicolette said.

Globe University-Sioux Falls is proud to have Nicolette as a student and thankful to her and the Flandreau community for supporting Auston.

Guest Writer – Melanie Schopp, Globe University-Sioux Falls campus director