By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/19/09
It was easy for Matt Flynn to explain to his Ridley U-15 players why Saturday’s Third Annual Evanfest Memorial Lacrosse Festival at Malvern Prep was such a major event.
Flynn had the honor coaching Evan Brady when he was a youth phenom during the Keystone Games nearly 10 years ago. Flynn, meanwhile, also recalls a different day when Brady single-handedly dominated Ridley as a member of the Media Optimist Youth teams.
“I had the pleasure of coaching Evan in seventh and eighth grade during summer (Keystone) tournaments and I can still remember the day he scored five goals against us out at Rose Tree and was literally unstoppable,” said Flynn, whose team was one of 26 U-13 and U-15 boys’ squads that played in the all-day affair. “He was more fun to coach than to coach against.
“He was a man-child and I wish I could see him play today. He would definitely be at one of the better D1 schools, without a doubt.”
Evan Brady passed away Sept. 21, 2005, after a lengthy battle with osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer). He spent his high school years at Malvern Prep living life with a debilitating illness the only way he could: laughing, enjoying his friends and even coaching lacrosse at Malvern.
Because of his example to take on life’s adversities, Evanfest was created to maintain Evan’s lust for life by raising money for families with children who have life-threatening diseases. This year’s event may bring close to $100,000 through donations, entance fees and other fundraising events; overall the Evanfest Foundation will have raised over $200,000, according to Evan’s father and the Evanfest creator, Bill Brady.
Brady said it was important that the hundreds of youth players who participated in Evanfest Saturday understood the reason for the event. Field marshals read an explanation of Evanfest to the players before each game and none of the games counted for league records.
Flynn said he told his players about what Evan Brady’s spirit represented before his illness, during his illness, and now. Clearly, Evan’s message has been heard since over 1,500 attended the event.
“I told our players before the game why they were here,” Flynn said. “Evan came to play and he loved the sport. It was contagious.
“Everybody loves coming to lacrosse tournaments and having fun. I really wanted the kids to know what this was all about. I think Malvern Prep and the Malvern Prep community does a great job embracing Evan and the family. It’s a great day – it’s also a sad day.”
Brady said the day is the culmination of a major project that featured well over 50 adult volunteers, as well as volunteer work from current Malvern Prep players, who had to leave after several hours to play in theHaverford School “Checking for Cancer” Invitational later in the day.
The volunteers prepared a large display area with past articles blown up so all could read about Evan Brady. Dozens of pictures were also on display as well as thank you letters from the many families that have benefited from the funds raised by Evanfest.
Brady said Evan’s story continues to be told, especially by his friends, many of whom are now in college or have recently graduated. At 26 colleges and universities, Evan’s friends – many of whom are playing lacrosse – are selling t-shirts to promote Evanfest.
This year it is expected that all 1,500 t-shirts made will be sold, raising about $8,000.
“We want all of the kids and parents to know this is about raising money to help families who have a child with life-threatening illness,” Brady said. “We’ll be close to raising $100,000, which is beyond our wildest dreams.”
Tags: Malvern Prep