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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Blake Leeper delivers surprise for Mother’s Day

Kingsport Native, Mom Appear in Commercial


By Marci Gore

KINGSPORT - Mother's day came a little early for Edith Leeper this year.

Edith, a nurse at Holston Medical Group, is Blake Leeper's mom.  Blake was born without legs from the knees down and has worn prosthetics since he was 16 months old.

Blake has always credited his parents with instilling in him the strong mind-set he possesses today.

In fact, the 2007 Dobyns-Bennett graduate started intensively running in 2008 after the Challenged Athlete Foundation presented him with a grant with state-of-the-art blade prosthetics.  He won a silver medal in the 2012 Paralympic games and the gold medal in the 400-meter relay at the IPC Worlds in Lyon, France.

Blake is currently training for the 2016 Rio Olympics, where he would become the first double amputee American to compete in the Olympic games.

"The day I was born, my parents had a choice.  They could let this break us or make us.  My disability would have broken most individuals and parents.  But they made me into the person that I am," he said.

Because Blake now lives fulltime in Chula Vista, California while he is training, he doesn't get to see his parents very often.

But a few weeks ago, he was given an opportunity to get to come home and surprise his mom,

Blake's agent ran Blake's name through a Mother's Day competition with Teleflora, a worldwide floral wire delivery service.

"My agent submitted my name and they went through a whole list of people, looking at their background stories, what they've been through, how far they've come.  And then they contacted me and said is this something that you'd be interested in and I said yes, of course!"

So, over the course of the next few days, a short video of Blake telling his mom what she means to him and how she has helped him be the man he is today.  Blake had to get his dad, Billy in on the surprise.

"I had my dad scrambling around, looking for photos of my mom and me together.  They asked me 'Does your dad have a big mouth?  I said, well......" Blake said with a laugh.

But Blake said, in the end, his dad was good with the surprise.  "We had to make sure she was home and at the right time.  My dad did a wonderful job of not telling anybody," he said.

And surprise Edith they did.

"Blake called me a couple of days before and said "Mom, there's a couple of people coming by the house that are going to talk to you about me growing up and those sorts of things," Edit said.  "He said just a couple of people.  But two vans full of people and three or four cars pulled up and I said I thought he said just a couple of people!"

What Edith didn't know what that Blake was also in one of the vans.

In the Teleflora commercial, which can be found on YouTube, a Teleflora delivery person gives Edith a tablet so she can watch Blake's video message to her.  When the message ends, Blake appears from behind the van with a bouquet of flowers for his mother.  When she sees her son, Edith's cries are probably heard all over the Leeper's Church Hill neighborhood.

"When I saw Blake, I just lost it," Edith said.  "We don't get to see him very often.  I try to commit him to at least one of the holidays at the end of the year and we try to go out to California maybe a couple of times a year.  And that's about it, unless we get to go to one of his events.  This was wonderful"

Blake says he knows he doesn't thank his mom enough for what she has done for him and that making the Teleflora commercial was a great opportunity for him to do something special for her.

"It started from the day I was born, those decisions she and my dad made that, regardless of my situation, I was going to be somebody special and not be defined by my disability," he said.  "Every day I wake up, I put one leg on at a time, I thank the Lord for me being here and I go get it.  And you know what?  I'll always be my Mom's baby boy."

Blake and Edith's video is one of several Mother's Day videos that were released by Teleflora last Friday.  The videos show unexpected reunions between moms and their children.

You can view Blake's Mother's Day tribute to his mom by clicking here on "Blake's Unforgettable Mother's Day Delivery to Mom."