An 8-year-old north Spokane boy got the surprise of his life Thursday when his favorite Monster Jam driver, Tristan England, met him at his front door and ushered him upstairs to a bedroom that had been completely outfitted with every type of Monster Jam swag and memorabilia imaginable.
Korbin Cabrera seemed shocked by the transformation, spending the first several minutes saying little more than “Wow,” “Whoa,” and “Cool!”
“I think he’s really stunned,” said his grandmother, Marklyn Hallett, who picked him up from school to bring him home for the surprise reveal.
Cabrera won a bedroom makeover contest sponsored by Operation Homefront, a nonprofit organization that assists military families. His father, Staff Sgt. Jorge Cabrera Martinez, has served in the military for more than 20 years, first in the Marine Corps and now in the Army National Guard.
Sara Rizzo of Operation Homefront was on hand for the bedroom makeover and reveal.
“We work with Monster Jam across the United States,” she said. “Every town, almost, they do a bedroom makeover and/or donate tickets to military families.”
Cabrera soon got over his shock and began chatting with England, who drives the EarthShaker truck. England signed a model of his truck, which prompted Korbin to immediately do backflips off his bed.
“I’m so telling my teacher,” he said. “This is so cool.”
His mother, Carole Cabrera, said she had heard about the bedroom makeover contest, which is based on civic involvement, via an email sent to military families.
Her son has been involved in just about every service project around, she said. He’s collected items for the homeless, bought Christmas presents for kids at the Northeast Youth Center and has helped put together backpacks for the charity Backpacks for Kids. In his spare time, he has been winning ribbons at the Spokane County Interstate Fair in everything from gardening to baking.
“He helps out a lot,” his mother said.
Operation Homefront did the room makeover Thursday after Cabrera left for school. He got all new bedding, a Monster Jam rug, huge Monster Jam truck decals for his walls, a Monster Jam gear bag, Monster Jam flags and banners, a T-shirt, hat and more.
Cabrera said his room felt like he was inside a stadium during a Monster Jam performance.
“I watch Monster Jam all the time,” he said.
He usually watches it on TV but has been to a couple of performances at Stateline. He’s been to a large stadium show once.
“I saw Grave Digger do a blackflip,” he said.
England shared videos he had on his phone of him performing stunts in his truck. Cabrera was properly impressed.
“How’d you do that?” he asked. “Skill,” England replied.
England, 23, said his love of monster trucks started when he was young, too.
“When I was about 7, my dad took me to my first show,” he said.
In 2012, his father, Shane England, bought a monster truck and started performing soon after, with his son on his crew. Now the elder England drives the Big Kahuna truck, but the father-son duo isn’t able to perform together.
“We’re on different tours,” England said.
Thursday’s reveal was only England’s second, but England said he loves doing them.
“It’s an awesome experience,” he said. “Giving back to families that sacrifice so much for us is a great feeling.”
The one person who hasn’t seen Cabrara’s new bedroom yet is his father. He’s deployed at the Canadian border working to counter drug trafficking, Carole Cabrera said. He comes home for weekends and will be in Spokane tonight, when the family has tickets to see a Monster Jam performance at the Spokane Arena.
The show is in town all weekend. High-octane Monster Jam performances are scheduled at 7 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $22 to $57 and are available at ticketswest.com.
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