The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio


February 21, 2014

A Don McCormack column: A matter of the heart

As he prepares to play his final game in Lakeside Gymnasium tonight, Kyle Downs knows his best friend, Austin Tome, will be looking down on him


Night to remember

Austin will be with Kyle and their classmates tonight as Lakeside High School will say goodbye to its senior boys basketball players before the Dragons host South in a Premier Athletic Conference clash at Lakeside Gymnasium.

It’s sure to be an emotional night, especially with Kyle having invited Austin’s parents, Kym and Bill, to be in attendance.

“It’s a special night for us, but having Austin’s parents with us will only make it that much more special,” Kyle said. “He’s always been close to my heart.”

Which is why Kyle chose to have a tattoo put on his chest. While Austin rests in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Geneva, he also rests in Kyle.

“It’s of a cross, with a ribbon on top of it,” he said. “It has ‘Austin’ on it.”

Austin Tome, even in a blink of an eye in terms of a lifespan, was a Lakeside success story... an Ashtabula success story... a good-for-the-soul success story.

His life story may have come to an end, but his short time will always be a shining example of what a young man can accomplish... and how many lives, one most especially, a young guy with a great heart and indomitable spirit can affect.


Kyle Downs lost his best friend to cancer at 1:40 a.m. on Thursday, June 24, 2010.

And as Austin arrived at the hospital for what would be the final time, he saw the wheelchair headed in his direction to take him inside.

“He said there was ‘no way!’ he was going to use a wheelchair,” Kyle said with emphasis. “Now, you have to remember, he couldn’t even walk because of everything he had been through.”

At that moment, though, something happened, almost a small miracle.

“Somehow, Austin found it within himself to get up to his feet and walk into the hospital,” he said. “It’s the most inspiring thing I’ve ever heard of.

“Even now, it just amazes me. It’s so inspiring... ”

Something that inspires him every single day.

“I pray for Austin every night,” Kyle said. “He’s so much a part of me. Because of him, I know no matter how bad things may be or seem to be, there’s always someone out there who has it much, much worse than me.

“I hope and pray he is proud of me.”

McCormack is the sports editor of the Star Beacon. Reach him at

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