8-year-old cancer survivor becomes honorary Duke lacrosse team member

Credit: WNCN
Credit: WNCN

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) - The newest member of Duke's men's lacrosse team is not your typical recruit.
 
Eight-year-old Austin Harrington took part in a special "draft day" ceremony Thursday, committing to the team he's been a huge fan of for several years.

"When I had cancer I became a Duke fan," he said.
 
Austin was just three when he was diagnosed with leukemia. Angela Harrington, his mom, says he went through 1,278 days of chemotherapy.
 
The team at Duke Children's Hospital treated Austin, which where his love of Duke and lacrosse took shape.
 
"It's been huge for him, to distract him from treatment and to give him something to look forward to," said his father Eli Harrington.
 
His mom says during his three-and-a-half years of treatment, he lost the ability to walk twice. She says he had to fight back, and now he spends as much time as he can playing lacrosse and soccer.
 
"Seeing him up and moving and walking and running and playing, it's every mom's dream," she said.
 
Danny Fowler, a goalie for Duke's men's lacrosse team, said Austin has inspired him and his teammates.
 
"Having the ability to give him happiness. I feel I learn more from him than he does from us," he said.
 
Austin attends home games as often as he can and occasionally practices as well.
 
About three months before his diagnosis, his infant sister Alexandra had to have an organ transplant. She's five now and takes part in gymnastics. His family has posted about their journey on Facebook. You can see pictures and video here.
 
Austin's draft day was also made possible by Team IMPACT. It's a non-profit organization that helps kids facing life-threatening or chronic illnesses connect with sports teams. You can learn more about their work here. Austin is a second grader at North Raleigh Christian Academy. His mom says he receives treatments now once every three months.

She says he's earning straight As in school, and he hopes to attend Duke once he's old enough.