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Five-year-old Alabama boy named one of 2018’s five most influential people

A five-year-old Alabama boy who made international news earlier this year for his passion for feeding the homeless has been named one of the five most influential people of 2018.

Austin Perine, a Prichard native who lives in the Birmingham area, was given this honor this week by CNN, who wrote about how the boy “captured the hearts of fans around the globe as video of him handing out chicken sandwiches to the homeless was shared millions of times on social media.”

Perine’s story was covered by Yellowhammer News in the spring, and the inspirational young Alabamian also appeared multiple times on Yellowhammer Radio.

CNN noted that since they aired Perine’s story in July, he has visited 15 cities to spread his now-iconic message: “#ShowLove.”

“A little boy on a big mission, he trekked as far as San Juan, Puerto Rico,” the network explained.

“It’s been an awesome experience to make people smile, carrying something on that started with 25 chicken sandwiches,” Austin’s dad, TJ Perine, told CNN.

TJ Perine said he cried in Detroit, when Austin received resounding applause at a homeless and recovering addicts shelter. The staff even wore Austin’s #ShowLove t-shirts.

“It was remarkable,” Perine commented. “He is an all-American kid who is an inspiration.”

Austin’s big year also included a letter from Lebron James, an appearance on Steve Harvey’s national television show and front row seats to a Miami Heat game.

“We are honored and thankful for all the opportunities we’ve had this year,” Perine said.

Austin’s favorite activity – when he is not being a red-caped superhero, of course – is reportedly hitting the mat as part of a local wrestling team.

“I like who I am, I never want to change,” the five-year-old told CNN, as a matter of fact.

“We hope he doesn’t. The world needs more people like him,” the network concluded.

The Perines also discussed making this prestigious list with NBC 15, who revealed that Austin’s fifth birthday was just this week. As they celebrated Christmas, the family also reflected on the spirit of the season, which Austin is intent to spread year-round.

“True happiness is when you know your child is becoming a good person,” TJ Perine outlined.

“It’s important to show love to the homeless because love is the answer,” Austin added to NBC 15.

The boy spent the morning of his birthday doing what he loves most: passing out food to the homeless.

His father says it makes him proud every time Austin puts a smile on someone else’s face.

“It warms my heart to know the city of Mobile is proud of Austin and that he has made a difference throughout the entire world for people who needed hope,” Perine shared.

While this honor might be a cherry on top of a whirlwind year, Austin is not nearly done yet.

“Merry Christmas and year-five is going to be better,” he emphasized.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

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