“Jubal! Jubal! Jubal!”
The 2-year-old, who nearly lost his life less than three months ago, looked up at the crowded stands in the Brixner Junior High School gymnasium and gave students a quick smile before hiding his face on his mother’s shoulder.
The students then stood, clapping their hands and stomping their feet.
Brixner students in March adopted Jubal as a Sparrow Club “sparrow,” and in one month, performed more than 400 hours of community service to help support the family financially as the toddler recovered from his injuries. Sparrow Club sponsors donated money to the family for the community service hours Brixner students logged in Jubal’s name.
Students met Jubal for the first time Tuesday during a celebratory event at the school.
Fighting tears, Jubal’s mother, Sarah Hirengen, addressed the students, thanking them for their support of a boy they had never met. Jubal spent nine weeks in hospitals in Portland before returning home to his family.
“I want to let you know how much you mean to us,” she said. “What you did was not only work your tails off to help earn money to take care of Jubal, but more importantly, we got your notes that told us why you were doing it, and we got updates about what you were doing. What you did is you brought home to us … We heard your voices, we saw your words, we felt your prayers … The money is fantastic, your hard work is amazing, but I want you to know that it is your passion, your commitment, your prayers and your words and your thoughts that meant even more to us.”
Jubal was critically injured in an accident Feb. 16, the day before his second birthday. Paramedics from Klamath County Fire District No. 1 responded, providing life-saving care before rushing the toddler to the hospital. He was life-flighted to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland and spent four weeks on life support before being transferred to an inpatient rehabilitation facility. Among his injuries were major head trauma and a fractured arm.
Today, the 2-year-old is back home with his seven siblings and parents. He still has partial paralysis on his right side, is fully blind in his left eye and partially blind in his right eye. But his speech has returned and is now better than it was before the accident. His personality is back and though he has a wheelchair, he is walking and standing, his mother says.
The paramedics who responded to the scene and the Klamath County 911 dispatcher who took the emergency call were invited to Tuesday’s celebration at Brixner Junior High School.
“We came to meet Jubal and see how well he is recovering,” said Klamath County Fire District No. 1 Captain Steve Lewis after the paramedics and dispatcher gathered for a photo with the toddler and his mother. “I’ve been doing this for 20 years and it’s rare to get wins like this.”
Brixner teacher and Sparrow Club advisor Kjaersti Roberts teared up during the emotional event, telling students that being able to meet Jubal in person is “a miracle that you get to be a part of.”
“I hope that you take this experience with you, knowing that you can go out in the community and you can make a difference,” she told the students. “You can do so much more than you thought you were capable of.”