Our Family and Jefferson Smith

By Jean Diamond Karasek of Eugene, Oregon.

I am writing to enthusiastically support Jefferson Smith, candidate for Mayor. In the seventeen years that we have known Jefferson, he has always behaved with the highest integrity and compassion.

Jefferson Smith volunteered during his senior year at the UO to coach a 6th grade boy’s basketball team. My son, Andrew Karasek, was a member of that team which won the City of Eugene championship. That basketball season was the beginning of an important lifelong friendship.

Jefferson was a dynamic, dedicated basketball coach who emphasized sportsmanship, team effort and hard work. Jefferson took a personal interest in each of the players and challenged them to do their best.

Two years later, when Jefferson was a student at Harvard Law School, Andrew was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Without hesitation, Jefferson took an overnight flight to spend the weekend in Eugene with Andrew before his brain surgery. He wanted to "make sure that Andrew’s head was on straight". The surgery was in Birmingham, Alabama the next week. On the day of the surgery Andrew was in the pre-op room waiting to be taken for anesthesia, when we got a telephone call from Jefferson. His call helped Andrew face the upcoming surgery with greater resolve and courage.

Five years later when Andrew was a freshman at Stanford University his brain tumor returned. His doctors wanted to begin chemotherapy. I contacted Jefferson to give him an update. He was living back east and once again flew out to spend the weekend with Andrew. He didn't hesitate interrupting his life/schedule to fly across the country to support a young man going through another difficult time.

Andrew kept in touch with Jefferson through college and worked as an intern at the Bus Project in Eugene during his summer of his sophomore year. Andrew admired the work of the Bus Project and wanted to be involved, even though he had just completed 2 months of radiation treatment. Andrew graduated from Stanford and has continued to have severe problems from radiation damage.

Recently, Jefferson called our home to check in about Andrew. When he heard that Andrew has suffered medical setbacks and was now unable to walk, Jefferson invited us to spend the day with him in Portland. He took the time from his busy campaign to hang out with Andrew for the day.

Many people over the years have given lip service to "having Andrew in their prayers and thoughts". Jefferson “shows up” always giving that extra measure of support.

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    As a mother whose son lost his battle with brain cancer, I know how much Jefferson's friendship and support means for Andrew and his family.

    Real heros are always too humble for their own good.

    Thank you, Jean, for sharing. My best to Andrew and your family!

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