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Hero cards came from all across U.S. and Canada in support of young boy who suffered a traumatic brain injury.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - The top fifth story of 2019 was how a 4-year-old boy named Ezra Thomas captured the hearts of Jefferson County residents. Ezra suffered a traumatic brain injury at the age of 2 1/2, due to abuse by his mother's former boyfriend. The story shed light on child abuse and his resilience.
The love for Ezra has continued and now racers from across the U.S. and Canada flooded the boy with racing hero cards, cars and more.
Tim Watkins, a representative of Madras Speedway and long-time tow truck driver for the track, wanted to reach out to a young boy who this community knows well and make his world a little brighter.

Ezra Thomas, 4, suffered a traumatic brain injury two years ago at the hands of his mother's former boyfriend, leaving the once healthy little boy reliant on tubes for breathing and eating and the care of those around him 24/7. Ezra's story struck Watkins and he wanted to do something special for the boy.

"I have always heard people say that when you need support you always have your friends, family, church family," Watkins said.

"What a lot of people don't realize is your next biggest family is your race family because that goes worldwide as well."

Watkins said, "When I talked to Tina (Jorgensen), I said, 'Does Ezra like race cars?' and she said 'Yes, but he can't play with them right now." He figured since Ezra can't play with them, "Why not get love and support from the whole race family? Meaning, why not have them send hero cards, decals, etc.?"

"We did this to show Ezra, there's more than just close people. There's people all over the world that are cheering you on, for your healing and your care," Watkins said. "We care about kids a lot."

And that's exactly what Watkins did. He put a post on his personal Facebook page, reaching out to people he knows in the racing world asking for signed pictures and racing swag for the young boy.

"I would like all of us Speedway family members to show him our love and support," a portion of the post read, going on to ask that those seeing the post share it with their racing friends.

The response was amazing.

Racers around Oregon and Washington began responding and sending all sorts of things in support of Ezra.SUBMITTED PHOTO - Tina Jorgensen holds her grandson, Ezra Thomas, standing behind a collection of racing swag that was sent from all over the U.S. and Canada in support of the little boy who sustained a traumatic brain injury two years ago.

"All these supporters coming in and mailing stuff in to help show support made me happy, and I started having happy tears," Watkins said.

When a race promoter from Washington saw the post, she sent it out to another member of the racing community and worked with her to spread the word even further.

Between the two, they connected with 23 racers they knew in Washington to donate shirts, bracelets, hats and little matchbox cars for Ezra, Watkins said.

"From there, I constantly re-edited the post and sent it out and that's how we started getting more and more," he said.

Each time Watkins shared his post, the two in Washington would share it as well, and the message picked up traction.

When it was all said and done, Watkins received swag from all over the U.S., and some from Canada.

Watkins said he received about 15 different packages that contained different collections, things from many different racers, including what the racing community calls Hero Cards — signed photos that racers hand out to fans.

"A lot of us (in the racing community) work against child abuse," he said. "This shows that there is a racing family out here that knows how to show love and support, and we do care about people, our fans, everybody."

"We did this to show Ezra, there's more than just close people. There's people all over the world that are cheering you on, for your healing and your care," Watkins said. "We care about kids a lot."SUBMITTED PHOTO - Below, Ezra holds two trophies that were sent to him from local racers at the Madras Speedway.

Watkins took his inspiration from something close to home. They have fan appreciation night at Madras Speedway, where all the drivers, including Watkins, get pictures that they can sign for kids.

"(The kids) love it," he said.

"The more I sat down and thought about 'How am I going to do this?' the more I really was like, you know, why don't we do what we do for fan appreciation?" he said. "Some drivers give out shirts, a lot of us do cards."

The goal was "to make the little guy feel special," Tim Watkins' wife, Amy, said.

"This was a really important deal for me to be able to do," Watkins said.

"When we started receiving packages in the mail for this, it touched me really hard," he said.

Watkins said he is not known to cry easily, but knowing Ezra's story and the outpouring of love the racing family brought forth moved him to tears.

"All these supporters coming in and mailing stuff in to help show support made me happy, and I started having happy tears," Watkins said.

On Dec. 22, the whole Watkins family delivered what they had received from all over the country to the home of Ezra's grandparents, the Jorgensens, where he lives and is cared for by his family.

"When we delivered the surprise to him on Saturday, he enjoyed it," Watkins said. "It pretty much brought tears to Tina and her husband's eyes, and they were so appreciative of it."

"The more I was opening up packages and letting them know where it came from, I was trying to hold the tears back again because I knew this meant a lot to them," Watkins said.

Tina Jorgensen posted a thank-you on Watkins' Facebook page in response to the thoughtful gesture which read, "I want to thank Tim Watkins and Amy Marie Watkins for all their love and support by collecting all this amazing stuff for Ezra. I would love to thank all the people that sent cards, pictures, t-shirts, hats, stickers and shirts and even cars!! You all rock!!!" SUBMITTED PHOTO - Hero cards, like those pictured, came from all over the U.S. and Canada in support of Ezra.

The post continued, "If you are friends with anyone that has sent these things to Ezra, or are just supporting Ezra, please share this with them!!! I would like to invite them to join TeamEzra to follow his journey."

She finished by writing, "We are truly touched by all of you, and words can't even express how grateful and amazed we are at the outpouring of love and support."


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