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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Local fundraiser to help pay for UA student’s treatments following traumatic head injury


Colin Prenger/Arizona Daily Wildcat

Tina Hilkemeyer was staying at a cabin at the Grand Canyon’s Phantom Ranch when her son, a UA student, was struck in the head by a falling rock during a hike. Austin Hilkemeyer, a would-be environmental science sophomore, remains in critical but improving condition in an undisclosed Tucson hospital.

A Vail high school held a talent show and dance fundraiser at 6 p.m. on Friday to help pay for a UA student’s treatments following an accident at the Grand Canyon resulting in a traumatic head injury. The student remains in critical but improving condition.

On Aug. 3, Austin Hilkemeyer, a would-be sophomore this year who studied environmental science as a freshman, was on a hiking trip with his family earlier this month. According to his mother, Tina Hilkemeyer, her son left at night with his father’s cousin, James MacCurdy, leaving other family members behind at their cabin, who were tired. It eventually began to rain, prompting the two to return to the cabin. On their way back, while passing through a narrow point in the trail, rocks fell from a cliff, striking Austin Hilkemeyer in the head and knocking him unconscious.

Hilkemeyer was flown to Flagstaff Medical Center where he remained in an intensive care unit until Sunday, according to a Facebook post on a page created for his recovery. As of Friday, Hilkemeyer had since been moved to a Tucson hospital, Tina Hilkemeyer said, adding that she wouldn’t say which one in order to protect his privacy. She said his condition is improving, as he is able to talk and perform scheduled walks for his rehabilitation regimen.

Friends of the Hilkemeyer family arranged the talent show and dance fundraiser at Andrada Polytechnical High School in Vail, where the family is from. The event had a $10 admission, and all proceeds went to funding Austin Hilkemeyer’s treatments.

Tina Hilkemeyer said the response from the Vail community has been very positive and helpful — a common characteristic she said she’s noticed since moving there in 1999 that would go unnoticed by outsiders.

“I think if you don’t live here, then you don’t get it,” she said. “I’ve seen Vail do this time and time again for families.”

The Hilkemeyer family has also made t-shirts with “Bear Down Austin” printed across the front, which they have been selling through a website to collect additional funds.

Anyone interested in donating can visit or go to any local Wells Fargo branch.

According to his mother, Austin Hilkemeyer had switched his major several times during his freshman year, starting in business then moving to engineering before finally settling on environmental science. She added that her son was interested in eventually becoming a park ranger, chuckling at the irony. While he hasn’t been able to return to class, Tina Hilkemeyer said her family is hopeful that he will be able to continue pursuing his degree after his surgeries in the future.

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