Taken In the Prime of His Life and at the Top of His Game
Austin Lee Vonckx’s Story
Austin was 4 weeks into his freshman year at Florida Gulf Coast University and enjoying every minute of it ‒ his friends, his classes, his dorm, his freedom ‒ life was great. His daily texts and random calls to his mom always confirmed that he had landed exactly where he was supposed to be.
That all changed in the early morning hours of September 14, 2014. Austin called his mom at 3:06 a.m. with a headache that was making him dizzy when he tried to sleep. He also casually mentioned that he had been really tired for the past few days. His mom chalked it up to being a new college freshman and reminded him to eat and sleep.
Austin proceeded to tell his mom about his day, which included paddleboarding on the campus lake, playing football on the lakefront beach and playing video games in his room with friends until 2:00 a.m. They talked and laughed as they typically did until ‒ 48 minutes into the conversation ‒ a loud gurgling noise came across the line, followed by complete silence. The paramedics found Austin lying on his dorm room bed, on his back, with his cell phone still in his hand.
Viral myocarditis literally took his life in the middle of a sentence. Another beautiful life stolen by this dreadful disease: a 19-year-old who was passionate about the Green Bay Packers and the Tampa Bay Rays; who enjoyed fishing, sports, Eminem, fantasy football and collecting signed memorabilia; who treasured his pets and was fascinated by cats; who was a faithful, fun-loving friend who spent his days making people laugh; who cherished his PS4 and could beat anybody at Madden; who was loved beyond measure and adored beyond words by his mother Brenda, brother Eric and father Don.
Austin’s new home is in the hearts of all who loved him. And his memory will always be kept alive, as his friends and family work to spread awareness and raise money for ongoing research ‒ with the goal of one day ending suffering and sudden death from this insidious disease.