Happy Birthday, and graduation, to Evan Goretzki...

Jason Werling
May 26, 2011


If the name Evan Goretzki sounds somewhat familiar, you have either been involved with Perkins Athletics, the schools in general, or you remember the miraculous story of a 10-year-old boy who had a stroke in 2004.

The stroke affected the left side of Evan's body, severely impairing his motor skills. Evan's stroke didn't impair his social skills and it may have had the opposite effect and enhanced them. The kid can talk and he will tell you that, just ask him.

I haven't been able to keep up with Evan as much as I would have liked. I don't think anyone could. I get the occasional Facebook posts and see him at Perkins sporting events. Evan was the manager for the basketball team and statistician during his four years at Perkins High School.

From the first time I met him when we did a story on his return to Meadowlawn school just three months after his stroke, it was "take my picture" or "get a picture of me with so-and-so" or "is this one going to be in the paper?" Evan was not shy about getting his picture taken.

This week is a big week for Evan. Wednesday was his 18th birthday. Thursday was his last day of school. And on Friday his parents, Kelly and Jeff, will watch their 18-year-old young man walk across the stage and get his diploma, two things that seemed improbable on that March 21, 2004, night when Evan had the stroke.

We did an update with Evan when he reached the halls of Perkins High School and I have included that video above, just click on the player.

In March of this year I received a call and an e-mail from Les Wilson telling me about what he and all in attendance for a boys basketball team were able to see. I'll let Les tell you in his own words...

"I was at the last Pirate home game only to watch my fifth-grade daughter do her cheerleading routine. It was senior night and Evan, our neighbor, was actually getting to warm up with the team. It was Evan’s last night as a senior, too.
It was great getting to see how happy he was being more than just the team’s manager that night. He was doing the warm-up drills alongside his friends and teammates. The student body cheered “Evan G” during the warm up.
It was the last few minutes of the game and the Pirates had a commanding lead. The roar from the student section came again, “Evan G” they shouted over and over again. Then it happened. Someone handed Evan a jersey and coach McVeigh put Evan into the game. The entire gym went crazy. I couldn’t believe what was happening. He wasn’t just in the game. He was somehow running up and down the court. I quickly reached for my camera and began shooting just before his teammates got him the ball and he went up for a lay up and the ball went in. It was such an incredible moment."

I have included photos by Les that he sent to me, they are posted above.

Evan has shown the Class of 2011, not only at Perkins High School, but all the schools in our area, what a young person can overcome and become through hard work and the support of a community. When Evan stands up to receive his diploma, I hope all of us stand up with him and appreciate what it took for the 10-year-old from Meadowlawn School to become the young man that walks across the stage.



Congrats Evan! I met you at your job (Best Buy) about a month ago. We talked for about 30 min about everything. It was truly an honor and a blessing to have met you. You touched my heart because you  keep on going, and have not let your minor setback discourage you. You are truly an inspiration to me. My little trials are nothing compared to what you have been through, and I have the nerve to whine.  As I was sitting here reading this tears flowed, and have not stopped. God is sooooo good. You and your parents are truly a witness as to how good he is. May God continue to bless, and keep you and your family. CONGRATULATIONS EVAN and the CLASS OF 2011!!!!!!!

Kottage Kat

Evan, Kelly and Jeff,

What a profile in courage this young man has been. His love of life, and his laughter have ispired many.  A hearty congrats on your graduation. You have met life's challenges head on and conquered them. I wish for you only the best in the future. God Bless you Evan

I worked with your Mom and your Grandma at Firelands, both are special. Know how very very proud your family is of you and deservingly so.



I think the Perkins students should be given some credit for the way they just overlook Evan's small problem and treat him just like "one of the guys". You're fantastic, evan.


I'm sure the comments from  themomx6 are heartfelt, but truth be told,I know Evan very well and the struggles he's faced and if anyone should be given any credit at all, it would be Evan, his parents, and his sister Jenna.  Although there are a few students who looked out for him, the vast majority of students definitely treated him like "everyone else", by ignoring him and making fun of him.  Having a stroke at age 10 and living with the emotional effects of being overlooked (not to mention the physical) are certainly no "small problem".   I applaud Evan for staying positive and hopeful and focusing on being the best man he can be.  Jeff and Kelly, you've been his rock and have never given up on him.  Jenna, you've stood by him and up for him and definitely treated him like any little sister would  - with unconditional love.    Here's to a family that knows what blessings and grace are all about.  Kudos to you all!

William Jeffers...

Congratulations!!!  You have already acomplished more by 18 than most will in their entire lives...and your just getting started!! 


 I do not know him but this story really touched me, and yes I am sitting in my office right now crying! What an amazing story and journey! 


Congrats Evan!  You are truely an inspiration : )




I was only going by what I saw at sporting events, so I may be wrong. Anyway, this is for Evan, and I repeat.................Evan, you're a FANTASTIC young man! Congratulations on not only graduating, but on being a wonderful person!



Congratulations Even, you are a true winner! Keep up the hard work.