ANNA MARIA -- A 9-year-old boy who suffers from a life-threatening illness got the chance to live his dream.
Austin Anderson and his mom, Tonia, were invited on a special shark-fishing trip off of Anna Maria Island Friday.
Austin was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease. It's a disease that could kill the third-grader before he becomes a teenager.
"He has seizure problems, muscle problems, heart problems," Tonia said.
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The trip was organized by his mom's co-workers at Galati Yacht Sales in Manatee County. When they learned that Austin loved to fish, they organized the trip, along with the help of local businesses, which donated fishing rods and other gear.
"What he has to endure on a daily, weekly basis is mindboggling and the pain he has to endure and he does it with a smile, from what I understand," said Chip Gore of Galati Yachts. "And he has a great outlook on life, and I think children like that or any person like that who has a terminal illness, especially in our community, we need to support our own."
Austin had only been fishing once. He never caught anything. But 20 minutes into the shark-fishing trip, the 9-year-old reeled in his very first catch. He caught a 42-inch blacknose shark.
The organizers of Austin's trip also launched a fundraising effort to help with his medical bills. Last year, his mother said she paid close to $30,000 in out-of-pocket expenses.
The family has set up a fund for those who want to donate. The account is set up at PNC Bank under the name "Austin Anderson for Tonia Anderson."