This is part of a continuing series counting down the top Philly lacrosse stories of 2009
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 1/5/10
In its third year, the Evanfest Memorial Festival at Malvern Prep has become a major charity lacrosse event.
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. Last year’s event – featuring 26 U-13 and U-15 boys’ teams – raised $120,000 through donations, entrance fees and other fundraising events. Overall the Evanfest Foundation has raised nearly $250,000, according to Evan’s father and the Evanfest creator, Bill Brady.
Already, more than 60 families have received funds through the Foundation.
It was easy for Matt Flynn to explain to his Ridley U-15 players in last year’s Third Annual Evanfest 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. “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.”
Bill Brady said it was important that the hundreds of youth players who participated in Evanfest 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 Evan’s story continues to be told, especially by his friends, many of whom are now in college or have recently graduated. At over 25 colleges and universities, Evan’s friends – many of whom are playing lacrosse – are selling t-shirts to promote Evanfest.
Brady also wished to thank the amazing fundraising efforts by Ian Mitchell, who played quarterback for Dickinson College and was a schoolmate and close friend of Evan’s at Malvern Prep. Mitchell raised a remarkable total of $22,000 last year through donations and pledges based on his yards thrown and gained on the ground. In all, Mitchell has raised $60,000 for the cause in his career.