At times Thursday morning, Austin Engel was hitting himself or one of his sisters. At other times, he shyly buried his face in his mother's shoulder.
The 4-year-old boy had difficulty accepting his role as the focus of the kickoff for Wallace Elementary's Pennies for Patient's fundraising drive that started Thursday and runs through Wednesday next week. He was at the school with his mother Andrea and sisters Abby and Mya.
Austin was diagnosed with leukemia Oct. 11, 2012, three weeks after his fourth birthday.
"I love to see kids helping other kids," Andrea Engel said during an interview after her presentation in which she told Austin's story to Wallace students. "That's the best, when kids take it upon themselves to help other kids, bringing their own money and change to give to other kids who are sick and in the hospital."
Wallace has been involved in Pennies for Patients since 2007. Students there have steadily increased donations to the program from $505.60 the first year to $2,288.29 in 2012.