Caddie Terry Walker, Tour player Andrew Landry travel to present family who lost 4-year-old child a heartfelt gift

Terry Walker
Austyn Louise Halter touched the lives of many in her four, short years, of life, including those of PGA Tour winner Andrew Landry and his caddie, Terry ‘T’ Walker.

Editor’s note: Terry Walker caddies for Andrew Landry on the PGA Tour. In April 2018, the pair won the Valero Texas Open on The Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio. The victory was the first of Landry’s career. The following story is Walker’s touching, firsthand account of a meeting he and Landry recently had with a couple, who lost their 4-year-old daughter, to pass along a heartfelt gift. This story originally ran in December 2018. 

This story begins two years ago in December of 2016.

That’s when I contacted Andrew Landry to see if he needed a caddie for the Q-School Finals in Orlando, Fla.

Although I had contacted Andrew several times before trying to work for him, this time he said, “Let’s give it a try and see how it goes.”

It was the opportunity I had been chasing for some time, and I finally got the chance to work for the person I truly felt could make a big impact on the PGA Tour. It was during that tournament that Andrew shared with me what he believed about himself: He believed he was put on this earth to play golf and to give back and help others.

Terry Walker
The adorable Austyn Halter made quite the impression on Andrew Landry and Terry Walker.

What he didn’t know at the time was that I believed the exact same thing. I shared my feelings with him about what I felt he was capable of accomplishing in this game, and I also shared my feelings about charitable endeavors. Andrew was very direct when he told me that, “giving back and helping others is a requirement if you are going to be a member of my team.”

That was the first time I saw the logo on his golf bag that read “#AustynStrong” and not long after, I learned the story behind that logo…

***********************

Just before the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont, Andrew learned about a young girl from his home town that was in a battle for her life. Austyn Louise Halter, a patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, was fighting a rare form of leukemia called Acute Megakaryoblastic Leukemia.

She was 2 1/2 years old when she was first diagnosed and, after intense chemotherapy and a stem-cell transplant from her mother Sarah, Austyn entered remission at age 3. To help Austyn and her family, Andrew donated half of his sponsorship money and set up a gofundme.com web page. In total, these efforts raised over $27,000 for Austyn and her family.  Andrew and I talked about Austyn’s condition and how she was doing on a constant basis, and one day he informed me that Austyn’s cancer had returned.

A few months later, we were playing a Web.com event in Springfield, Missouri. During the Tuesday practice round, Andrew told me that Austyn had passed the Friday before. He couldn’t look me in the eyes as he spoke, and I could tell that he was emotional. He mentioned that she was in a much better place than we are, and then we were silent. This little girl, whom he had never met, had a huge place in his heart and his spiritual side had grown as a result. I made the decision right then that, if ever given the chance to raise money for charity, that we would do it in honor of Austyn.

Little did I know at the time that our chance to do just that would soon come.

***********************

Andrew had a great year on the Web.com Tour in 2017, which included a win and several top 10s.  He was able to secure a PGA Tour card, and he had a top-5 and two top 10s during the wraparound season on the PGA Tour. It was during the wraparound season that I approached Scott Sajtinac – President of the Association of Professional Tour Caddies – and inquired about the Caddies for St. Jude fundraiser.

I wanted to start approaching some charitable foundations to start raising funds for this cause.  I also felt that Andrew and I had a connection to St. Jude Children’s Hospital that would tie in perfectly: Austyn Louise Halter. To my surprise, I was contacted by Scott in early 2018 to listen in on a conference call with the folks at St. Jude and a few of the APTC representatives. After that conference call, I called Andrew and asked if we could set up the website in honor of Austyn.

Andrew Landry
Austyn Halter with a special sign just for Andrew Landry. Credit: Halter family

Not only was he in favor of it, he mentioned that he would support it! I set up the website and copied Andrew in on it.  We knew that there was a cruise giveaway to the caddie who raises the most funds, and per my request, we agreed we would donate the cruise to Austyn’s parents if we raised the most money.

Caddies are a giving bunch – any of them would have done the same thing.

The next thing I knew, Andrew posted the website on Facebook and mentioned that we were trying to win a cruise for Austyn’s parents, Josh and Sarah. I also posted the website on Facebook, and I developed a flyer (see the photo below) to post in the locker rooms of my local club, The Woodlands Country Club.

In total we were able to raise over $13,000 for St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

Terry Walker

***********************

On October 17, 2018, I was notified by Scott and J.D. Peeples (St. Jude) that the cruise was awarded to us. I immediately contacted J.D. to tell him that we would be donating the cruise to the Halters.

J.D. worked with the folks at Carnival to get the paperwork in Josh and Sarah’s names. Once we had the instructions, paperwork and the Carnival certificate, I reached out to Andrew and asked if he could arrange a time for us to get with Josh and Sarah. While we had the proper documentation on November 19, 2018, scheduling conflicts wouldn’t allow for the person-to-person meeting until after Andrew finished the QBE Shootout in December.

Terry Walker
The winning cruise certificate.

Andrew texted me on Wednesday, December 12, 2018, and mentioned that he had set up a time to meet with the Halters on December 13, 2018, at noon. The meeting place would be at the Oak Bluff Cemetery in Port Neches, Texas. This is where Austyn had been laid to rest in August of 2017.

I woke up at 2:15 a.m. the next day and started my normal routine of packing my clothes to wear for the day in my workout bag. Then, I drove to Denny’s in The Woodlands, Texas, as I do every morning. There was some lightning hitting a few miles away, but no rain. The minute I walked into Denny’s, the clouds gave way and a huge storm started moving through.

Austyn Halter
Austyn Halter.

I got my iPad out and got on Facebook. I looked up “Sarah Halter” and there was a video posted by Sarah of she and her husband dancing with Austyn in a hospital room shortly before her passing. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, and quite emotionally draining as well. I literally cried for two hours watching this video. Pouring rain and severe lightning ensued for the entire time I was there until 5:30 a.m. The rain stopped when I walked out the door. It was still dark when I departed Denny’s, and I remember saying to myself that the only thing missing from the storm was a rainbow.

I drove to The Woodlands Country Club, did my workout, and got cleaned up and changed for the day. I walked outside around 7:30 and started my daily prayer. It was not the same prayers I normally say, instead I was praying that God give me the words to say to Josh and Sarah.

Just after 8 a.m., I got a call from Andrew and we agreed to meet at a supermarket in Port Neches and ride together to the cemetery. I told Andrew that I was concerned about the additional expenses the Halters were going to incur when booking their cruise, and I thought we needed to buy something to place at Austyn’s memorial upon arriving. We agreed that each of us would put $1,000 ($2,000 total) in an envelope, and we would buy flowers for the memorial.  Andrew had a four-hour drive from his home, and I had a two-hour drive from my home to get to Port Neches.

I left The Woodlands just after 9 to start the drive. I made a brief stop at a Buc-ee’s along the way and a text appeared. It was Andrew asking me how I liked my coffee. I thought this was strange because he was nowhere near me, but I responded that I drink my coffee black. I got into my car and continued the drive.

Terry Walker
Terry Walker (left) and Andrew Landry won the Valero Texas Open together in April 2018. Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

About 15 miles from Beaumont, it started to rain lightly. Just a small set of clouds above me were the cause, but you could see sunshine everywhere else. The forecast called for rain throughout the day, so it was no surprise that there were some sprinkles.

Then, I spot the faintest rainbow in the distance.

This would prove to be significant later in the day.

***********************

I arrived at the Market Basket supermarket around 11:15 a.m., and Andrew arrived shortly thereafter. He had purchased two beautiful poinsettia plants, and we each put our money in the envelope. I grabbed the framed certificate and paperwork for the cruise giveaway, and we drove to the cemetery.

There’s an 80 percent chance of survival at St. Jude. We are part of the 20 percent. The only voice my daughter Austyn has left is us. — Sarah Halter

The Halters arrived and texted Andrew that they were in a silver truck, which we spotted immediately upon entering the cemetery.  After a brief introduction, we walked straight to the memorial and placed the poinsettia plants on each side of Austyn’s tombstone. Andrew asked Josh and Sarah how they were doing. It was obviously still very difficult for them to talk about their daughter.

That moment would be the first of my many tears.

Josh and Sarah then handed Andrew and I a cup of coffee from Starbucks (ah, that’s why Andrew needed to know how I liked my coffee), and they gave Andrew some gifts for Christmas. I recognized one of the packages as being the size of the book that was recently published about their daughter. The name of the book is, “Be Brave To Be Fearless,” by Stacy Trimble. The Halters explained that all proceeds go toward the fight against childhood cancer (if you wish to purchase the book and donate, click here).

After some chitchat about the area, Andrew asked me to share with Josh and Sarah why we were there. I told them about the events leading up to the APTC fundraiser for St. Jude. As embarrassing as it was, I choked up several times just letting them know how often we thought of them and Austyn.

I told them that we had won the Carnival Cruise for two, but we requested it be put in their names. It’s good for one-year to any destination for any period of time and consists of an Oceanview Stateroom. I then gave them the envelope with the $2,000 cash to assist them with any additional expenses they may incur on the trip they choose.

Terry Walker
Terry Walker (left) and Andrew Landry (right) visit with Josh and Sarah Halter at their daughter Austyn’s memorial.

I explained that the manila envelope contained the required paperwork they would need to fill out, along with a copy of the flyer showing our efforts in honor of Austyn.

Finally, I told them that Andrew and I would cover any amount should they exceed the amount being given to them. Andrew said he wanted them to have no expenses out of their pocket in relation to the cruise.

Sarah was crying, and Josh just looked at the ground.

We all hugged as they thanked us for their gift, and both explained that they had never been on a cruise.

Yep, I was crying again.

***********************

We talked a while longer and found out that Josh has made a career change and is now a fireman in the area. Sarah has returned to work as a nurse. Josh explained that he felt a need to do something that helps others, just as others have done for them. During that exchange, I noticed a neon-yellow lady bug crawling on Andrew’s shirt. I said to him, “that’s a good sign, Boss!”

When I looked at Josh and Sarah, they were both smiling. Sarah excused herself and ran to the car. When she returned, she handed me a button that had a picture of Austyn on it with a saying, “Forever in our hearts.” It also had a logo I recognized, the one emblazoned on Andrew’s golf bag, that reads “#AustynStrong.”

Austyn Halter
#AustynStrong

I immediately put the button on the left side of my shirt, right by my heart. I fully intend on carrying this button in Andrew’s tour bag in every event we play as a reminder of the fact that we play a game, and there are far more important aspects of life than golf.

Coffee and a button with Austyn’s picture — I couldn’t think of better Christmas gifts!

***********************

I have never met two stronger people than Josh and Sarah. I cannot even come close to knowing what it would be like to lose an only child.

When we asked where the strength comes from, Sarah told us, “There’s an 80 percent chance of survival at St. Jude. We are part of the 20 percent. The only voice my daughter Austyn has left is us. That’s why our mission will forever be to share our daughter’s courageous battle, spread love and strength and kindness wherever we go, and give back to the organizations who share our same goal… to end childhood cancer once and for all.”

Just before we left, I was speaking to Josh about my morning and how I spotted a faint rainbow just west of town before we arrived, and that I said to myself earlier in the morning, the only thing missing from the storm that moved through The Woodlands was a rainbow.

Josh pulled up a picture on his cellphone. He was leaving St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital one day when something told him to turn around. When he did, there was a vivid, brightly colored rainbow over the center of the entrance after a heavy rainstorm.

Josh Halter
This is the rainbow photo over the entrance to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, snapped by Josh Halter.

Sarah and Josh smiled at each other, and Sarah said, “We call rainbows ‘kisses from heaven,’ and that goes for lady bugs, too!”

By the way, the sun shined on us the whole time – no rain!

COMMENTS

  1. Terry – I think I shed as many tears reading this story as you did when meeting Josh and Sarah. God Bless you and Andrew for your all your love, kindness and charity to the Halter family. It is an example for all of us. Merry Christmas to you, Sheri and the kids!——Bob

    1. Thank you, Bob! May your Holiday Season be filled with Rainbows and Lady Bugs – “Kisses from Heaven”. Give my best to Sharon and the whole family. “T”

  2. This is the most precious story. Thank you for sharing. Josh & Sarah are so strong and we love them forever. They have been gracious to share their child’s journey to heaven with all of us. I am a local resident of Port Neches and hope to have the privilege of meeting the Halters soon. I have Austyn’s book CD and read it to my greatgrandson. He is about 3 weeks older than Austyn.
    Love,
    Cheryl Bryant

    1. We are so grateful to Josh and Sarah. They are so strong, yet they have been through so much. We will always keep Austyn and Josh and Sarah in the forefront of what we do. May you be blessed with many Rainbows and Lady Bugs – “Kisses from Heaven”. “T”

  3. I made the mistake of reading this at work. I’m still wiping away the tears as I write this. Our family has lost a number of its members to cancer and have one in remission so we are acutely sensitized to the devastating impact of the disease. Yet, this story, a brave child and incredibly strong parents whom I have never met, made me realize that I have not given back enough. It is time. Thank you Josh and Sarah, Andrew and T, for the rainbows and lady bugs. I won’t see them the same ever again.

    1. Beautiful, Brother! Just beautiful. May Rainbows and Lady Bugs flood you and your family’s lives. Love you, Brother. “T”

  4. People like you two are necessary to society and a reminder of how precious life is. Golf is a great game and i appreciate you guys for for sharing this story…

  5. What a beautiful story! Tears flowing. Praying for God’s continued Grace for the Halters, their angel, Austyn, Andrew & yourself & the continued care of St Jude’s

    1. Probably the same stuff I had in my eyes for the past week! Hope you are blessed with many Rainbows and Lady Bugs. Thx. T

  6. Austyn leaves a legacy that will never be fully realized till we meet her in heaven. By the grace of God go Sarah and Josh and her family. I am in constant awe! Love is a powerful thing! And I thank God for St. Luke’s Hospital and all the other angels of mercy Austyn Strong inspires!

  7. Wow. It is so hard to read with constant tears. Thank you both for your kindness and generosity. I have been fortunate to work with Austyn’s mom, grandmother and aunt. I cannot even express what a special family they are🌸

  8. Terry, I’ve known you a long time; you have always been very giving and caring person. This is the best and I know you did from your heart. The world needs more Andrews and Terry’s. 🙏

    1. Thank you, G! I know that you have had a journey within your family of similar circumstance. I really appreciate the kind words. May God bless you and your family with many Rainbows and Lady Bugs – “Kisses from Heaven”. “T”

  9. Wow – Terry, I knew this was going to be special when you guys approached me about this, but you guys are a Blessing beyond words. I have asked my Carnival guys to share with their team so the can also see what their generosity has provided as well. Hope you guys get in the WGC FedEx Invitational as would love to give you a tour of the hospital.

    1. Our ability to help others is only a result of others giving to us! Andrew and I are so grateful to The APTC, St. Jude, and Carnival for their generosity, and willingness to go above and beyond the norm. May God bless all of you with many Rainbows and Lady Bugs – “Kisses from Heaven”. “T”

  10. Terry and Andrew, God bless you both! Josh and Sarah, I have followed Austyn’s journey being in southeast Texas!! My thoughts and prayers are with you both during this time!

  11. I read this while waiting for my order at Sonic, by the time my food got there I could hardly talk and tears running down my face.
    What an Awesome story!!
    Thank ya’ll for All ya’ll have done for Sarah and Josh and the memory of Austyn!!! God Bless Ya’ll!!

  12. Terry,
    Dwain and I were talking just last week about how you and Andrew are so good together in more ways than golf. We have always taught Andrew to be kind, humble, and never forget to give back especially when God has blessed him in so many ways. Ironically, I texted Andrew that morning and said “y’all better come up with alternative plans, it’s storming!” I left school to pick up lunch at 11:00 and the sun was beaming….God is good and I knew Austyn was there with y’all! God Bless you and we appreciate you for believing in our son as much as we do. We think the world of you.
    Tricia Landry

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Tricia! I have mentioned to Dwain that you all have done a terrific job in raising a son like Andrew. I cannot express how grateful I am to be fighting the battles by Andrew’s side. At such a young age, he is so grounded and mature. This comes from great parenting. I can assure you that we have only scratched the surface with the success in his golf life and in our endeavors with charitable work. My expectations for him are very high, and I know he will lead us to greatness in everything we do. May you and your entire family be blessed with many Rainbows and Lady Bugs – “Kisses from Heaven”. “T”

  13. This was so beautifully written . I couldn’t stop crying. Having big hearts is putting it mildly. What y’all did was so amazing. Thank you both for your kindness and generosity. Andrew I am so proud of you. God Bless you both for all you have done for this family.

  14. This article gave me all the feels. I am a RN on Bone Marrow Transplant at St. Jude. Until we find a cure, I will continue to work alongside families and fight the fight with them. These children deserve all of us. 1000% I look for rainbows all the time. I had a patient that told me one night they are a reminder of God’s promise. I call them my God Winks. They usually always come when I need it most. Thank you for all you do for St. Jude. I can assure you that it never goes unappreciated, or unnoticed. Much love and gratitude this holiday season.

    1. Thank you, Kim! I truly appreciate all of what you do for these children. May you be blessed with many Rainbows and Lady Bugs – no matter what you call them. T

  15. Having been blessed with two beautiful princesses – a daughter and granddaughter – helps put this story very much in perspective. Sometimes blessings are given to us for periods of time that are far too short. It is always amazing to see how people like Sarah and Josh have the strength to carry the love they shared with Austyn and make so many powerful contributions in her memory. They are special people, as are you and Andrew. Not hard to see how y’all could be inspired by the most special of all – Austyn. Thanks for sharing this story, thanks for your gifts to Sarah and Josh and most of all, thanks for the smiles you gave Austyn. I believe she is still enjoying those smiles in her resting place. As Austyn would say, “hey, stud” – you are all studs in life. Merry Christmas and best wishes for a successful 2019!

  16. Thank you for sharing this story!! It’s very refreshing to hear such great acts of kindness from good guys!! Best of luck this season and I hope to see you guys in the winners circle many times!!

  17. Oh the tears reading this. How beautiful and thoughtful. I’m pretty sure that all of Texas and all who saw that precious face couldn’t help but to fall in love with Austyn. She will forever be in our hearts. God Bless You both for doing this amazing and selfless thing for the Halters.

  18. What an amazingly touching story to read on Christmas Eve. You both embody the spirit of giving. God bless and Merry Christmas. Thanks for sharing.

  19. I am new to this site. What an incredible and touching story to share.
    Godspeed to you and Andrew in San Antonio!

  20. Terry,
    Thank you for your heart. Thank you for sharing your story. Please tell Andrew thanks also. You both represent what is good about the PGA Tour, but most importantly it shows where yours and Andrew’s hearts are.

    God Bless you both

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *