“You always think you can just sit on something, and it will get better,” said Carlos Auger, a staffer at the Marcus Jewish Community Center who noticed a blister on his foot one day and didn’t do much about it.
The blister turned out to be the beginning of an infection called Charcot foot syndrome, which can affect those who have diabetes. Auger, who according to 11Alive TV news once weighed 450 pounds, told the Atlanta Jewish Times he came close to death during the ordeal that followed.
“I had to have my leg amputated in February. It was very rough. For three days after the surgery they didn’t know if I was going to live or not. The infection went into the bone itself, and they couldn’t find an antibiotic that was working,” he said. “I went septic; my kidneys shut down. My family thought that was it. They told (my mother), ‘We have two choices: We either get rid of the foot, or he dies.’ She had to make the decision to get rid of my foot.”
Auger’s convalescence is ongoing, and he won’t be back at work until fall at the earliest. But his colleagues and members at the JCC have rallied to support him during his long recovery.
The 42-year-old Puerto Rican native has worked as sports desk manager at the center for six years and is a big basketball fan. “On Saturday mornings we have all the basketball pickup games for members, so I got to know them very well,” he said. “Steve Peltier and Jeff Levy I know well. Jeff has three sons, and one of them, Aiden, would sit with us at the front desk.”
Longtime Marcus JCC member Steve Levin took up the story. “Carlos was always greeting the pickup basketballers at 8 a.m. on the weekend. He became friendly with one of the players’ sons and was very kind to him. This player heard about the amputation and realized he needed funding. … Three players decided to hold a charity event for him.”
The basketball tournament was held May 22 and featured six teams of five players each.
“This was organized independently of the JCC. Great group of guys,” Levin said in an email.
Jeff Levy, Aiden’s father and a lawyer at Deloitte & Touche, said he and Aiden presented Auger with a check and a basketball over the Fourth of July weekend. In an accompanying letter, Levy wrote in part: “Our group decided to undertake a private fundraising effort in order to assist with your situation. Needless to say, the tournament had strong participation and everyone welcomed the opportunity to be associated with a great cause. As a result of the efforts, we’re pleased to present you with proceeds in the amount of $2,518 which you may utilize however you deem necessary to assist in your recovery. We also hope you accept this basketball as a memento and reminder of how appreciative all of us and our children are to have such a warm and loving individual greet us at the front door of the JCC on a daily basis. We truly hope these gestures are helpful and want you to know how much you’ve meant to us.”
Auger said he has learned a crucial lesson: He advised others to pay attention to changes in their health. “I’m close to being healed. Two more months, and it should be done. I’ve got a guy who is helping me with prostheses, which means I’ll eventually get back to walking again, but it was a real shakeup.”