A Survivor's Story

This Kid’s Got a Lot of Heart

We have a unique job, no doubt about it.  Our today is often different from our yesterday, and that’s truly one of the best things about what we do.  Along those lines, we get the opportunity over the course of our travels to tell one-of-a-kind stories about the people who make up our communities across this region.  A few weeks ago, we got to meet a family whose story is without question one-of-a-kind.  But it’s not just that they’re sharing something very personal – it’s why they’re sharing it that makes them so special. 

Evan Boxley is 10 years old, and he’s the typical 10 year old at that.  He’s smart, curious, fun loving, and sometimes mischievous (just ask his big sister, Makayla).  By and large, he’s the perfect example of what anyone would come to think of as just another kid.

Get to know him and you’ll find he’s anything but just another kid.

When Evan was 8, he had a stroke.  You read that right.  There aren’t many typical kids who can lay claim to that one.  In fact, only 1 in about 10,000 kids in America suffer a stroke each year.  So what made Evan the “lucky” one?  That’s a question his family surely asked along his road to recovery.  By 10, Evan was a survivor of multiple strokes.  He was challenged with more by his 10th birthday than most of us will be in our entire lives.  But he faced the challenge head on.

Yes, there were days he felt defeated.  There were days he had to merely act tough while his doctors prodded and poked him with another instrument.  Recovery was long and difficult following heart surgery, but he made it.  And as his family explained to us, even on the difficult days, he made it with a smile. 

Today Evan is surely a different kid.  His father, Broderick, explained to us that he can’t ride his bike, or play contact sports like football or soccer.  That might cause too much stress on his heart.  But what he can do is live.  He can get up in the morning and be with his family.  He can come home at night and do his homework, and practice the trombone or the piano.  He can go bowling and run track.  He’s a survivor.

as his family explained to us, even on the difficult days, he made it with a smile.

It’s inspiring to hear these stories first hand and it’s a great challenge of ours to craft the story for the intended audience.  In this case, the video’s audience is a room full of supporters of the American Heart Association.  The 2016 “Heart Ball” will honor Evan and his family, and this video will help explain how strokes can happen to anyone, and it’s up to us to put a stop to them.


That’s what’s so special about Evan and his family.  It wasn’t his parents, Broderick and Ayanna, who wanted to tell their story.  It was Evan.  He wanted people to know what happened to him so that we can all do something to prevent the same thing from happening to someone else.  Now isn’t that the true mark of humanity?  To do for others, even when you’re having your own tough go of it. 

It’s amazing a 10 year old has that all figured out.


A quick postscript about our partner in this story, the American Heart Association:  We’d like to take a second to express our gratitude for being welcomed into the video mix.  We work with many non-profits in the northeast, and as things typically go in the non-profit world, vendors will flock to where their contacts go.  Such was the case here as our contact that we formerly worked with at the Please Touch Museum brought us with her to the American Heart Association Great Rivers Affiliate.  We are touched that our work resonated with her at PTM enough to ask us to come along on her new adventure, and certainly hope that Evan’s story is the first of many that we’ll share with the American Heart Association.

We are happy to say that this video, as part of AHA's "Open Your Heart" Campaign at the 2016 Heart Ball helped raise $75,000 on the spot. It's a tribute to Evan and his family's willingness to share their experience and we couldn't be prouder of playing our small role!

Contact Rob Czyzewicz