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.