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Friends keep injured teen in race

Mon., May 7, 2007

One of the largest contingencies of Bloomsday runners belonged to Tom’s Team, a grass-roots group formed in recent weeks to help sustain 17-year-old Tom Everett’s spirits.

And Tom has no idea.

A Ferris High School junior and cross-country star, Tom suffered a life-changing spinal cord injury on a jump at Schweitzer Mountain Resort in early April over spring break. He just started what friends say is expected to be at least two months of rehab at a medical center near Denver.

They want Tom to know they’re rooting for him. So to coincide with Bloomsday, they’ve sold T-shirts for Tom.

“Our goals were to do something for Tom’s spirits and to encourage all the people who wanted to help but felt so powerless … to feel like they were doing something,” said Gunnar Evenson, a friend of the Everett family.

A top athlete, Tom has been an on-and-off Bloomsday participant since sixth grade. He finished 12th in the 13- to 15-year-old age group in the 2005 Bloomsday, when he turned in a time of 49 minutes and 48 seconds.

Because he’s sidelined this year, Tom’s friends are creating a big, tangible get-well wish: a large photo poster of hundreds of friends who on Bloomsday raced or sported bright green “Hey, Thomas” T-shirts depicting a winged-giraffe flying inside a track shoe.

Scott Davis, a 15-year-old cross-country runner and friend of Tom’s, donned the signature green shirt for the race.

“It feels good to be here. There’s just a huge pack of people (in Tom’s T-shirts), and it’s really cool to be a part of it.”

The photo session, which featured 300 people, took place on Ferris High School’s track after the race.

Katie Reichard, who is Tom’s girlfriend and a junior at Lewis and Clark, helped organize the endeavor and thinks the resulting poster will be hand-delivered by family or friends who’ll be visiting Tom in the next week or so.

“I think the big fulfillment should be the picture – seeing how many people turned out with the shirt,” said Reichard, who joined a clutch of 20 teens in green shirts on the race course.

“We saw so many people we didn’t know walking with the shirt on,” Reichard said in amazement after finishing the course.

While he’s been in a lot of pain lately, she said, Tom is upbeat overall.

“He’s amazing us all,” Reichard said. “He knows he’s going to be independent, and he knows what he has to do to get healthy.”

One of the first things he told her after his accident was that he has every intention of hitting the slopes again.

“We’re thinking maybe of getting him a really cool adaptive ski” with some of the money we’ve raised, Reichard said.


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