DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas police Senior Cpl. Jaime Castro watched as NASA honored his brother’s memory during Thursday’s launch to Mars.
Both Jaime and his brother, Ezra, are sports enthusiasts and superfans — Jaime for the Dallas Cowboys and Ezra for the Buffalo Bills.
Ezra was known nationwide as “Pancho Billa.”
“The week before the Super Bowl, we would say okay we’re not we can’t talk to each other so we can focus on the game!” Jaime said.
Growing up, they shared all sorts of memories like these. Their love of sports bonded them and dozens of other superfans they met across the country.
So when Ezra was diagnosed with cancer in 2017, it was sports that held them together.
“You know, you have that one common ground, you have a love for a team, and everything else can be pushed aside,” Jaime said.
After a year and a half battle with pancreatic cancer, Ezra passed away in 2019. Though he left behind some lifelong superfan friends, one connected Ezra’s family with NASA contractor Jerry Stoces, who fought the same cancer battle and survived.
Stoces had the idea to send Ezra and all of his family’s names up to space, etched in a microchip on board Thursday’s NASA launch to Mars.
“After Ezra’s passing, we had that opportunity to be able to still get some names on the chip support the rover,” Stoces said.
The two had never met, just connected through mutual friends and sports. But Jerry said it was sharing that same cancer battle that gave them a special bond.
“It’s an honor to be able to do that for Ezra’s family, especially with that connection that we all had that binded us,” he said.
The Perseverance Rover is expected to land on Mars in March 2021.