A special surprise for a young fan

For Jeffrey Flanders, a 14-year old from Ebensburg, Pa., the COVID-19 pandemic hasn't been easy.

Flanders has cerebral palsy, his young life spent in a wheelchair.

So, when the pandemic shut down so many things and kept him homebound, Flanders' parents looked for something to help him, something positive for him to focus on.

Like his family, he shares a love of sports, in particular Steelers football.

The idea they came up with was collecting football trading cards. Jeffrey had received two in the mail, and loved them, so growing the collection became a goal. But finding them, well, it wasn't easy.

Until his mother, Kim Flanders, got on social media. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Not only did the cards start to arrive, but so did attention, including from NBC's TODAY with Hoda & Jenna, who featured Flanders' story and even provided a little surprise for him.

"We thought this was something good for him to collect," Kim Flanders told Donna Farizan, who did the feature for TODAY with Hoda & Jenna. "I didn't realize at the time that trading cards were the hottest thing since sliced bread, and I couldn't find any trading cards. For weeks I went up every day and was thinking, where are the trading cards."

Kim posted on social media her son's story and interest in collecting cards on a Twitter thread started by Midwest Box Breaks, a company that specializes in trading sports cards. She said, 'New Collector here – if anyone has any Steelers doubles.'

"I thought somebody would say I've got a couple of cards and maybe we'd get two cards or five cards and add to his collection," said Kim.

It didn't take long for people to respond, with hundreds of cards arriving and even personal notes from those sharing the cards.

"I consider a lot of these people friends, even though you have never met them," said Kim.

Well, Jeffrey and his family had the opportunity to virtually meet those who shared cards with them during the interview with TODAY with Hoda & Jenna, and an even bigger surprise was in store as Cameron Heyward jumped in on the call much to the excitement of all.

"I am a big fan of yours, Jeff," Heyward told him. "How are you doing buddy? You guys have a great family. I love Jeff and got to hear a little bit about how he likes to collect football cards. Keep up the great work and keep supporting us."

While Jeffrey's smile was huge, his mother's heart was full.

"A lot of times I think people focus on the negative things around them," said Kim. "I think this just shows there is more good around than there is negative. You have to try and focus on that."

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