By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Kathy Verboort continues to be blown away by the love being shown to her son.
Son Austin, 16, was critically injured in a two-vehicle accident May 22. Austin’s Jeep Wrangler crumpled after being hit on the driver’s side, leaving the McNary High School junior in a coma.
Immediately family, friends, businesses and strangers pitched in to help in anyway possible. A one-day fundraiser at Dutch Bros. Coffee in Keizer on June 3 raised $20,900 while a gofundme.com account has raised nearly $24,000 from almost 300 people.
Through it all, Austin has continued to improve. He was moved to Randall’s Children’s Hospital at Legacy Emanuel in early June. An update from June 25 noted Austin had risen to a level 6 (out of 8) on the Rancho coma scale and family members heard his voice on June 23 for the first time since the accident.
On June 26, Kathy picked up a check from Dutch Bros. and thanked the employees for giving all proceeds from June 3 to the Verboort family. The family is friends with several employees there, plus employees from other locations came to help out that day.
An emotional Kathy read the note she sent to the Oregon-based company.
“On behalf of Austin Verboort and our family we thank all the employes who sacrificed an entire day of wages and tips, knowing many of you have your own financial struggles, and (those who) traveled from out of town to help,” she said.
Kathy also thanked MHS staff and students who designed T-shirts that were sold on Austin’s behalf and various companies that have stepped up. She also thanked personnel from Keizer Fire District for their fast response.
“We wish to thank the Keizer, Salem and surrounding area for those of you who endured the long wait and who dug deep and gave generously,” Kathy said. “We wish to thank all those who have been sending up prayers on behalf of Austin Verboort and our family. We have been in awe at the outpouring of support and feeling totally embraced and loved by our community during such a difficult time in our lives.
“We could not be doing this without the emotional, spiritual, financial and physical help from all of you,” she added. “Austin was born and raised in Keizer and I feel proud to be a part of this community and am touched deeply to be the recipients of such selfless generosity.”
Hayley Cole, one of the Dutch Bros. employees, loved seeing so many people supporting the family on June 3.
“It was wonderful,” Cole said.
Kathy has been by her son’s side on a regular basis and has seen the improvements.
“He is quickly progressing,” she said. “He’s saying my name. He said ‘mom’ on Tuesday (June 23) and he said, ‘I love you’ today. He amazes us with his tenacious spirit. He gives his all every day. He’s a fighter.”
Each day Kathy is stunned by Keizerites.
“We’ve been in awe of the community support,” Kathy said. “We’ve been embraced by the community. People have been digging deep. We’ve been amazed by the outpouring. People we don’t even know are reaching out. Austin has a long journey ahead of him, but it’s great to know we have such amazing support.”
Kathy also gave thanks to a higher authority.
“It’s totally by the grace of God that Austin’s with us today,” she said. “His Jeep collapsed around him. I give all glory to God and His amazing grace. He’s touching so many lives through Austin. I am totally trusting in God’s plan for Austin and know our God is a God of healing and miracles. We are witnessing a miracle each and every day with Austin. I could not be doing this without my faith and the faith of those surrounding us and lifting us up in prayer.”