Easton's memory lives on through donations, acts of kindness

Morgan Zanger, 6, joins her St. Francis classmates in doing "burpees" in the school gym Wednesday during a fitness fundraiser in honor of Easton Zanger. The event, sponsored by QTown CrossFit, is a pay-it-forward program. (H-W Photo/Steve Bohnstedt)
Posted: May. 14, 2014 9:42 pm Updated: May. 28, 2014 11:14 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

It's not about the money.

It's about helping to instill a spirit, at the tenderest of ages, concerning what is meant by "paying it forward."

It's also about keeping alive the memory of a 2-year-old Superman.

Easton Zanger of Payson, known as "Super E," died in December 2012, ending what had been a courageous battle against mitochondrial disorder POL-G (Alpers-Huttenlocher Syndrome). His struggle against the disease that would eventually claim him touched an entire region, which has not forgotten him.

Easton's legacy is being heightened by a project coordinated by Becky Bliefnick, a longtime friend of Easton's mom and dad, Shannon and Jeff Zanger.

Bliefnick, who owns QTown CrossFit, is in the early stages of developing "ETO WOD."

An ETO is an "Easton Time Out," a random act of kindness. A WOD is a "Workout of the Day," one that Bliefnick and the QTown CrossFit staff have developed specifically in Easton's memory.

Bliefnick is working with area grade schools, having students do a quick physical workout in Easton's honor. When they perform the workout, participating students donate $1 or more to a fund that will help families whose children need medical assistance.

The elementary students also pledge an ETO, an act of kindness they will repeatedly do in Easton's memory.

Payson Elementary and St. Francis in Quincy have jumped on board. Bliefnick said more schools will be involved next school year.

"Shannon and I have been friends since we were 9 years old, and Jeff was my summer softball coach back in junior high," Bliefnick said. "Easton and my oldest, Deacon, were the same age and were playmate friends. The (Payson and Quincy communities) threw their support behind this family like nothing I have ever seen before.

"Easton brought out the good in people. His body endured so much, but his spirit and love of life never wavered. His legacy is a daily reminder for all of us to live life to the fullest, love without boundaries and know that all of us -- big and small, young and old -- have the ability to make a difference in this world."

Students at St. Francis had two WOD sessions on Wednesday in the school gymnasium, where they also turned in descriptions of their ETOs.

One of the students taking part was third-grader Addison Zanger, one of Easton's three siblings.

"It makes me happy to see all of these people doing this in memory of Easton," Addison said.

On the north lawn of St. Francis, just outside the doors that lead to the gymnasium, is a memorial to Easton for all to admire. The inscription reads: "Easton is our Superman. Our Angel."

ETOs from the St. Francis students included such promises as:

"For Easton, I have helped with extra yard work. This helps my parents."

"I pray for children with medical issues to get better soon."

"I will stand up for people who are being bullied."

"I have been nice to people."

Dozens of such vows were made in Easton's honor on Wednesday.

"It doesn't matter whether the donation (from each student's family) was $1 or $1,000. What we will have are hundreds of random acts of kindness going on in our community," Bliefnick said. "And all of them will be in Easton's memory."



For more information about QTown CrossFit's "ETO WOD" project, contact Becky Bliefnick at 217-316-4616 or