Community rallies to help crash victim (video)
Boom. Boom. Pow.
Vibrant colors of pink, yellow, blue and purple exploded early Saturday morning outside the Victoria Community Center as bumping techno music laid the track for more than 300 people to participate in Victoria's first color run 5K.
It was all for Niko.
In May, Nicholas Ramirez, 21, of Victoria, was rushed to the hospital after his motorcycle struck the right wheel of a 2008 Suzuki all-terrain vehicle on Burroughsville Road, causing him to flip over several times before he landed head first in a ditch.
Ramirez wasn't wearing a helmet and spent two months at San Antonio Military Medical Center before being transferred July 8 to TIRR Memorial Hermann rehabilitation center in Houston.
The color run and daylong benefit, which included a car show, barbecue fundraiser, live auction and kickball tournament, were put on to raise money for Ramirez's medical expenses.
Michael Ramirez, Niko's brother, said he cannot put an actual dollar amount on the medical expenses accrued during his brother's recovery but is beyond thankful for the community support.
"He's been making leaps and bounds in recovery," Michael Ramirez said.
Therapists are using communication, physical, occupational, speech and music therapy to help Niko with communication and cognitive thinking.
Jessica Barron, 30, of Victoria, said she was crying on her way to the benefit today after a family member shared Niko's story with her.
"I did it for a reason," Barron said about the color run. "His story touched my heart."
She and her husband, Edward Barron, and daughter, Carissa, were soaked in sweat and transformed into rainbow-colored people after their first 5K.
Participants were continuously coated with colored powder throughout the race, which Frank Salazar Sr. said he and his son were mixing late into the evening.
Salazar said Tuesday that only 70 people had registered for the 5K. The night before the event, more than 300 people had signed up, which was "way over our goal," he said.
Registration for the 5K was $25 per person or $20 per person for groups of five or more.
"It was so much fun," said Lyza Shedd, 27, of Victoria. "Hot but so much fun. It was a good experience for a good cause. I wish Victoria would have more of these."
Frank Salazar Jr. said he always wanted to bring a color run to Victoria. Originally, he said he was going to put one together for profit, but when his long-term friend suffered a head trauma, he decided to do one to benefit Niko.
"I was deeply, deeply sad," Salazar said about when he learned about the crash. "It hurt me immensely because Niko had been a strong friend in my life. He always watched my back.
"I know a lot of people are praying for Niko tonight."
Collin Almanza, 17, of Port Lavaca, said he and his youth group from Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic church also came to the event to support Niko.
"Seeing how many people were out here was fun," Almanza said. "It's just a great way to raise money."
The younger Salazar said a color run is more laid back than a typical 5K.
"People don't really do it for competition," he said. "They do it for fun."
After the race, thousands of people lined up at Jaycee Hall to participate in a live auction and brisket sale.
Michael Ramirez said more than 3,000 plates of barbecue were sold and a custom fishing rod auctioned off for more than $500.
"It's just amazing how our community can come together for a family and support us in these tough times," he said. "I was overwhelmed."