Devoted mom helped by kindness of strangers

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Rebecca Gonzales wanted to Pay It Forward to Jackie Lea. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Rebecca Gonzales wanted to Pay It Forward to Jackie Lea. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Brandon Lea suffered a devastating head injury in October while visiting friends in Prescott. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Brandon Lea suffered a devastating head injury in October while visiting friends in Prescott. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Jackie Lea has been taking care of her 22-year-old son, Brandon, since he was injured. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Jackie Lea has been taking care of her 22-year-old son, Brandon, since he was injured. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Rebecca Gonzales reached out to CBS 5 to Pay it Forward to the devoted mom. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Rebecca Gonzales reached out to CBS 5 to Pay it Forward to the devoted mom. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Brandon Lea prior to his injury (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Brandon Lea prior to his injury (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

A helping hand and a warm smile.

The kindness of strangers can make all the difference, especially when dealing with a traumatic experience.

Nobody knows that more than Jackie Lea, of Alaska, who has been taking care of her 22-year-old son, Brandon.

Brandon suffered a devastating head injury in October while visiting friends in Prescott.

Brandon was long-boarding down a hill when he lost control and crashed headfirst into the pavement.

"The prognosis was very bleak that he would be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life and that he would be brain dead," Lea said.

Brandon's mom flew to Phoenix to be by her son's side and hasn't left. She's been with him every step on his long road to recovery.

Lea has kept an update of Brandon's progress on her Facebook page, which caught the attention of Rebecca Gonzales, through her social media network.

Gonzales was so touched by Brandon's story that her family decided to reach out to Lea, to bring her food, clothing and whatever she needed while she cared for her son.

"She left her whole life back there and for her to be over here without family and support, it felt like we could give her that support that she needed," Gonzales said.

Gonzales even took it a step further, reaching out to CBS 5 to Pay it Forward to the devoted mom who she just met online.

Gonzales had a TV news crew behind her when she surprised Lea and her son in their hospital room at the Barrow Neurological Institute. 

"You're such a great mom ;and I can only hope that I can be such a mom like you," Gonzales said. "You've been a role model to me. Channel 5 news has a Pay it Forward program, so they have given me $500 to give to you guys."

"Having strangers come forward makes such a huge difference," Lea said. "Seeing (Brandon) walk, knowing he's making those steps towards progress and healing -- it's awesome."

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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Jason Barry
Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

Click to learn more about Jason.

Jason Barry

Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

He is a nine-time Rocky Mountain Emmy Award winner who is best known for his weekly Dirty Dining reports, which highlight local restaurants with major health code violations.

Jason was born in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Miami.

An avid sports fan, Jason follows the Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Suns with his wife, Karen, and son, Joshua.

His favorite stories to cover are the station’s Pay it Forward segments, which reward members of the community with $500 for going ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty to help others.

Jason, started his career at WBTW-TV in Florence, SC before moving to WALA-TV in Mobile, AL, was named the Associated Press Reporter of the Year in 2002.

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