Base youth, community show support for injured teen

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- The Seymour Johnson youth ministry team from the base chapel took some time out July 13 to show support for one of their injured friends by waiting tables at one the local restaurants in Goldsboro.

The team rallied at the Pizza Inn on Ash Street to raise money for Carson Thomas, one of two children who were struck by a vehicle eight months ago while crossing the street to attend school.

"I knew Carson because he was a member of the youth ministry on base. I was devastated and shocked when I heard about the accident he and Mackenzie Wessels were involved in," said D.J. Coles, the base chapel's youth minister. "Carson was very active in the youth ministry. He was also funny and diverse and could fit into any atmosphere."

Carson and Mackenzie were struck and injured by a sport utility vehicle while crossing Ash Street on their way to Greenwood Middle School in November 2005. Mackenzie, who suffered broken bones and other injuries, was released approximately a week after the accident. Carson was in a coma for nearly three months after the accident. He was released earlier this year and is currently receiving physical therapy at home. The driver, who allegedly ran a red light, was arrested and convicted of felony assault inflicting serious injury, is now slated for deportation.

It's been nearly eight months since the accident and the community is still showing support for the family. Even though Carson attended the fundraiser in a wheel chair, it was evident that his personality and charisma affected all those in attendance. Those who didn't know him before now gathered around him to meet him and show their support for his recovery.

"Some of the children in the youth ministry know Carson, and they love him," Mr. Coles said. "He is very important to all of us, and we want to show him our support."

Lori Squitieri, the Pizza Inn general manager, said the restaurant was more than happy to have the "dough raiser" for the Thomas family. This is not something new for Pizza Inn.

"All tips will go to the Thomas family, and 10 percent of the proceeds the restaurant makes will also go the family," she added.

The youth ministry raised a total of $771.00 for the Thomas family. "The tips equaled $591 and the Pizza Inn donated 10 percent of its profits which equaled $180," Mr. Coles said. "I thank everyone for their support."

For more information regarding the Thomas family or to make contributions, please contact the Base Chapel at 722-0315 or contact Mr. Coles at 581-9739.