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Writing Evan's Story
Well, now I've gone and done it! A couple of weeks ago, on a whim, I sent one of my latest stories to my local paper as a writing sample for a freelance gig they had advertised.
Yesterday, I couldn't spell journalist, today I am one. Sort of...
I pitched my first story idea to the Editor. She got it when I asked if I could call her Chief by the way, and it was off to the races! Not so fast, grasshopper. I did not spend anytime thinking about the fine print. According to my contract, anything I sell to them is theirs and I can't republish it. Well, I can but I have to get permission.
So this is a different article about the same thing from another angle.
A couple of years ago I was watching my granddaughter Maddie play with some kids at Chick-fil-a after school when Bill Harris came in with two of his grandsons. Brice Harris, his little brother Evan, and Maddie knew each other because they attended the same school. Back then, Maddie and I went to the Chick most days and Bill the boys were there sometimes. The kids played while I read, wrote, or talked to Bill.
Bill and I had an odd history.
Decades before we had performed in a womanless wedding to raise money for a special needs school. It may have been hilarious, but it wasn't pretty that's for sure. I got roped into it because my step son went to school there. Sheryl, Bill's wife, was an educator and a force to be reckoned with as a proponent for special needs kids. She made him do it, I'm sure! LOL!
Also, Bill's wife and my Mom went to chemo at the same office and sometimes at the same time. My Mom lost her battle but Bill's wife was still doing well.
One afternoon,I mentioned that Maddie was studying the Civil Rights movement to Bill and he spoke to Maddie about his own experiences in his deep, calm, soft voice. I watched both confusion and then understanding flicker in her eyes as history became personal.
Shortly after April 20, 2015 when I heard a little eight year old boy had been rushed unresponsive to Levine's Childrens Hospital in Charlotte, N. C. I felt bad for them. But I didn't dwell on it.
It was weeks later when I saw the picture on Facebook. It got personal, fast.
Bill's youngest grandson, Evan, was the little boy. The next day, I found out that Bill's wife had lost her battle with cancer in November and that there had been several other Harris' family losses.
Family, friends, and even strangers have stepped up for Evan and the Harris family by praying and raising money. I'll leave a link at the bottom where anyone can donate to help offset the tremendous costs of medicine and therapy or leave a message/prayer.
Evan has a genetic disease that causes lethal amounts of ammonia to accumulate and poison his blood. His brain swelled, he had part of his skull removed, he was put into a medical coma, his frontal lobes were damaged, he lay comatose, a feeding tube was put in, and through all this the family waited -- faithfully waited and prayed.
And so did many others in our little community.
It has been a little over seven weeks. Evan has regained consciousness, learned to talk again, and is walking some with assistance. The part of his skull that was removed has been replaced and that surgery went well. He has made incredible progress, but many challenges lay ahead. He has to tolerate solid food before the feeding tube can be removed. He will need a special diet and the medicine to keep the ammonia levels low.
He had three bags the first day. Each bag cost $56,000. No, that is not a typo. $56,000.
The piece I did for the paper is the hardest thing I've ever written. I felt a deep responsibility to get the story right. I hope I did. These are not only real people, these are real good people. They mean something to our community. They mean something to me.
Link to donate or leave a prayer for Evan:
JaRon Stevenson,below, took the next eight photos!
JaRon Stevenson, a part time photographer, felt led to help raise money for the Harris family. He started taking pictures with the "Team Evan" sign for five dollars a shot and the effort took off. He has raised over one thousand dollars, five bucks at a time!
Courtney Crompton saw a video JaRon made and decided to sell #teamevan t-shirts to raise money. She has a Facebook business called CC Doodles and she began to sell the shirts. The demand became so great that she needed help.
Renee Wilson jumped in! The two ladies, who had never met, delivered and ordered shirts, met for mass deliveries, and eventually raised five thousand dollars. Courtney has donated all the profits from the sale of the shirts to the Harris family.
A special moment with Evan.
Sensei Connie Funderburk works with Evan at Kenkai Karate in Lancaster and says that he trained first as a "Mighty Ranger" for boys and girls under the age of six. He won one of the highest possible honors as a Ranger and later most of his sparring matches.
"That same fighting spirit is becoming evident as Evan learns to walk again. It's an amazing thing to watch," she said.
At the dojo, Connie started the Seven for Evan campaign asking for donations of seven dollars, seventeen dollars, or whatever a person can spare. When they reach seven hundred dollars the studio will provide a meal to the karate team and the Harris family. They've also offered free lessons for a year to Brice, Evan's big brother.
Here's the short article that I submitted to the Lancaster News:
- Doity, A Short Story
True story, happened Thursday.