WASHINGTON TWP. – Kim and Rich Muckenfuss experienced a parent’s worst nightmare.
Austin Muckenfuss, “the glue” of the family, died in November 2015 after being hit by a car in Glassboro while in a crosswalk.
The Washington Township High School student had been dropped off at a video store for a midnight release of a new video game.
He and some friends got hungry and decided to cross the street to go to Wawa.
“That’s when he got hit by the car at the crosswalk there at Dalton and Delsea Drive,” his mother explained.
“It was the week kids have off for the teacher conference. A video game was coming out that evening at midnight. We dropped him off at GameStop in Glassboro to wait in line. Then at midnight we were going to go and pick him up and get the game.”
Immediately, friends, family and the community rallied around them and one of Kim’s friends started a GoFundMe to help pay for Austin’s funeral.
That was the start of the Austin Muckenfuss Scholarship Fund, which has raised more than $33,000 in nearly five years with funds going to Washington Township High School graduating seniors for scholarships in Austin’s name. It’s geared toward young people who have overcome adversity.
“Within weeks, we knew we wanted to do something good with that money,” Kim said. “I think there was about $10,000 collected. That’s what we started the fund with. We were able to give out scholarships that June. He passed away in November. We said, somehow we need to keep funding this.
“Austin loved football. He played football and that was like a passion of his. That’s when we came up with let’s do a flag football tournament and raise money that way. That’s how Run Amuck started the following year.”
The Run Amuck Flag Football tournament is held annually in honor of Austin (his nickname was Amuck), but this year’s event, scheduled for April 17, never happened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Austin was a football player,” Rich Muckenfuss told 6ABC. “He played Pee Wee football ever since he was 5 years old and carried it on into his freshman year of high school before he passed away … He had a special way about him, he always looked out for the underdog.”
They auction off gift baskets each year, which has brought in $2,500 so far this year in raffle ticket sales. They are doing it virtually via text messages, emails and Facebook. The drawing is June 6. About $4,500 total has been raised this year, including $2,000 from a youth football memorial game that was played in their son’s honor.
“We have committed that we’re giving out $11,000 this year,” Kim said. “So we’ll end up having to go into the fund. Last year we made $12,000 at the Run Amuck and we gave out $12,000.”
Other money has been raised from the sale of masks that are being made by Rich’s secretary, Kathy Seagrave, who volunteers each year at Run Amuck. Rich is the owner of DDM Steel in Vineland.
“She’s like since ‘I can’t volunteer this year at the Run Amuck, how about I make these masks and you can sell them for $10 a piece?’,” said Kim, an ER nurse at Jefferson Cherry Hill Hospital. “She’s made a whole bunch. It’s great.”
They’d like to start building the fund more so they can give out more than scholarships and so that they can perhaps extend it into other school districts.
Their son had a form of dyslexia and they were able to afford a private tutor but realize some families aren’t so lucky.
“For some families, it’s either I feed my family or I get my kid tutored,” Kim Muckenfuss said. “My other goal would be to maybe try to start a scholarship or a fund to help parents with tutoring for kids.”
Austin is still influencing others in a positive way, even if he is no longer around physically.
“We always called him the glue of our family,” his mother said. “He kind of brought us all together. He still does. We’re a blended family. We (she and Rich) got married when the kids were very young. He had two sons from his previous marriage, I had two sons from my previous marriage and we had Austin together.”
The family even created special sweatshirts after he died because kids in town wanted to represent him in some way.
“To this day, kids still love to wear the sweatshirts,” Kim said. “Just the fact that I see people wearing them around town is just awesome. Makes me feel so good.”
“It’s been truly overwhelming, it’s been wonderful. Your biggest fear as a parent is that your child will be forgotten. They make sure that he won’t be which is really nice.”
Celeste E. Whittaker is a metro reporter for the Courier Post. The South Jersey native has worked at the Courier Post since 1998 and has covered the Philadelphia 76ers, college sports and girls high school sports. She now covers human interest stories and other news throughout Burlington County. If you have a news tip, call her at 856.486.2437 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @cp_CWhittaker.
Help support local journalism with a Courier Post subscription