Making a Difference: Local teen overcomes birth defect
ALTOONA - Some say Elliot Mast is defying the odds.
The 18-year-old Altoona teenager was born with a birth defect that doctors said would keep him from walking, but he is proving that anything is possible if you have the right attitude.
"My left foot, when I was born .. it was completely backwards," said the local Jefferson Award recipient.
Doctors told Mast’s parents walking wouldn't be possible for their son.
He was diagnosed with a club foot, a birth defect that had Elliot traveling to Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh frequently for surgery.
"They also said, `You know you're going to struggle when you're older; you're not going to play sports.’ "
It's news he couldn't accept, especially when it came to baseball.
"My parents have said I was pretty much throwing in my high chair,” Mast said. “I started tee ball, then I went to Little League and pretty much started at a very young age."
His accomplishments at a young age only continued. After proving he could do more physically, Elliot decided to do more from the heart. At 10 years old, he began volunteering and later started his nonprofit "for the kids."
"I pretty much just use Facebook, Twitter(and) Instagram to reach out to people, saying this is my story, ‘Would you like to donate?’ “ Mast said.
“Why can't I give back to the community, why can't I help people who have helped me before."
In the past five years, through his website, elliotmast.blogspot.com, he has raised $21,000 has been raised for the Child Life program at Children's Hospital.
"It helps you to get your mind off of things. It is a donation to get toys," he said.
That is why Mast received a local Jefferson Award. It's given to those who go above and beyond to help others in need.
"To be able to get that award at a very young age, at 18 years old, it's surreal, it's a blessing," he said.
Mast said he practices baseball every day, all year 'round and is hoping to play professionally.