Often it’s sports teams or students who exhibit academic excellence. Sometimes it’s someone who has shown leadership in improving their community.
Such was the case Thursday when Sen. Page Cortez, D-Lafayette, and Rep. Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette, got the Senate and House to pause long enough to recognize 16-year-old Elijah Evans, of Youngsville, a sophomore at Ovey Comeaux High School. Members of each body listened to resolutions honoring him as one of two Louisiana high school and middle school students to be selected to receive awards in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program.
Evans was abused as a child by his mother. She put him in scalding water, which burned the lower half of his body. He lost all the toes on his right foot and those on his left are now webbed. Evans was then placed in foster care where he was later adopted by one of the nurses who cared for him.
Evans began his advocacy in eight grade:
When he was in eighth grade, he found a way to make people more aware of child abuse and to do something special for kids in foster care. “I knew what it was like to not get gifts you really want,” he said.
He estimated that he would need $5,000 to host his first Christmas party, so he began fundraising, speaking about child abuse prevention and sharing his story at local churches, schools, civic organizations and with the news media. He recruited volunteers, collected donations and sold raffle tickets, as well as T-shirts that he designed.
That is rather impressive. It shows that abuse does not have to be the end of a person’s life. It also shows that anyone can help abused kids. One does not need an organization to do it or have reams of catch phrases. One need only make the effort and there is a good chance one will have the same impact as Evans.