CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Ezra Brooks never feared challenges. Born 20 years ago with Trisomy 21, a genetic condition caused by an extra chromosome, Ezra was able to graduate from Clarion Area High School in 2021, wrestled in elementary school, and played basketball from seventh through 12th grade.
(Pictured above: Ezra Brooks making it EZ.)
Now, he wants to own his own business.
Ezra recently announced plans for EZ Dogs, an elaborate mobile hot dog cart, for Clarion County. EZ Dogs will offer delicious gourmet hot dogs using local farm-to-table ingredients and family favorite recipes.
Ezra and his mother, Tanya, have been talking about things for him to do for years.
“We’ve been talking about things to do for several years, and one of them was opening up a bakery,” Tanya said. “I was just kind of hesitant to do that because I didn’t want it to be too overwhelming for either one of us, so I wanted to be very careful about how I went about doing it.
“We love hot dogs, and I just thought, you know, we could do that. I feel like that trend is moving into small towns and welcoming outside vendors or pop-ups and would be something fun for our area, something that could be a good start for Ezra.”
“While a hot dog may be a simple concept, it’s something that Ezra could gain working skills and make it into his own.
“There will always be someone there to assist him and most likely to be someone in the family because everything we typically do in the Brooks household, we do as a family. This will be Ezra’s business, but it’s also going to be a family operation.”
Tanya works for Clarion Vocational Services with Ezra, so she will be able to help him.
“He won’t be alone.“
A portion of sales will help support babies diagnosed with Trisomy 21 who need life-saving heart surgery in Nigeria.
The EZ Dogs cart will be mainly in the heart of Clarion, but hopefully in some areas such as New Bethlehem and Rimersburg.
Ezra also explained how things got started in his Facebook post.
“Back in May, I used what was left of my high-school graduation money, with help from mom, to invest in my first hot dog cart. My mom searched for an affordable cart for over a year and found one for sale in Pittsburgh. My mom drove to Pittsburgh to sign all the necessary paperwork for the purchase. It just so happened that the seller owned a camp in Leeper and so he kindly delivered it for us.”
Ezra asked for some assistance with the project in completing the final steps such as obtaining permits, inspections, a ball mount towing for the car, and a griddle to mount on the side.
“The response has been fantastic,” said Tanya. “It has been more than I ever expected when we put it out there. The response has been kind of emotional and overwhelming, and we are extremely grateful.”
The Brooks are still brainstorming on fun flavors and names for the new dogs and also working with the Small Development Center on a business approach and looking at what prices will be charged.
“We want it to be affordable. It’s not about making a lot of money as much as this as it is the experience. We definitely want it to be affordable, but I don’t think we’ll be able to offer three-for-a-dollar Eddie Dogs.”
“I’m thinking we will start at the end of August or the beginning of September. It just depends on how long the permits and inspections by the Department of Agriculture take.
“Ezra went through the learning support program at Clarion Area, and he’s very capable of doing something like this. I wanted to do something within his capabilities of shining the light on individuals with Trisomy 21 because they’re just like anybody else, they’re not all the same.”
According to Tanya, there are people with Trisomy 21 who are going to college, getting their doctorate, swimming, doing Ironman competitions, and triathlons.
“They’re contributing to society, and I just want that opportunity for my son, within reason and according to his abilities.”
A test during her pregnancy revealed that Ezra had Trisomy 21, but that didn’t change how she felt about her future son.
“It didn’t change how I felt about having him. I just wanted to keep my child, and I was like, we’ll face whatever when he comes into the world.”
Ezra would also be the first person in Clarion County with Trisomy 21 or intellectual disability (that is known) to own a business.
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