By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 2/15/11
It’s been five and a half years since Evan Brady passed away at the age of 19 following a lengthy and inspiring bout with bone cancer, but two of his close friends are working hard to maintain his legacy.
Andrew Mackrides and Matt Brazitis, who played lacrosse with Brady at Malvern Prep, are raising money and awareness for the Evanfest Foundation by spearheading t-shirt sales at numerous colleges and universities.
The 5th annual Evanfest lacrosse festival will be held on April 16 at Malvern Prep. At least 20 youth boys’ teams will play in an event – created by Evan’s father, Bill Brady – that has raised $350,000 and benefited more than 100 families. All funds go directly to families dealing with a child that has a life-threatening illness.
Mackrides has helped oversee the t-shirt sales project for four years, during which several thousand shirts have been sold and close to $20,000 has been raised. This year Brazitis is helping co-ordinate the project.
“We are trying to pass along this annual t-shirt drive from player to player as people graduate and move on, said Mackrides, who starred at Penn State and is now living in Santa Monica, Calif. “As they (new players at Malvern) come up, we fall out of touch. So, we’re trying to build the tradition from past years.”
Mackrides said lacrosse players will be selling t-shirts this year at his alma mater (and the club team at PSU), Drexel, St. Joseph’s Villanova, Penn, Cabrini, Ursinus, Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins, Holy Cross, Stevenson, Franklin & Marshall and North Carolina. Many of the players selling t-shirts are from Malvern Prep, but some are friends of Evan who played with him or against him in youth lacrosse and attended other high schools.
Shirts are sold for $10 and half of the sales go directly to Evanfest. Each year the shirts don a new design to promote Evanfest. Mackrides said that players normally sell the shirts to all members of the team and also explain Evan’s legacy to each buyer.
“We have the guys get confirmation from the school and coach that it’s OK to sell the shirts and then they typically sell one to everyone on the team,” Mackrides said. “Then they give a brief history of Evan’s legacy and courageousness as well as how the Foundation works.
“It’s a good cause and shirts are nice. And it’s good for the guys selling to get the chance to raise money for a charity that’s so important.”
This Friday, another fundraiser will be held when an Evanfest Happy Hour is hosted at Barnaby’s in West Chester from 7-10 p.m. (see accompanying story).
Brazitis was the starting goalie on Malvern Prep’s 2006 state championship team and later played at Wake Forest. Despite being diagnosed with cancer in 2001, Evan continued to contribute as an assistant coach and served as an inspirational leader to his teammates.
“Evan had passed away in the fall of my senior year,” said Brazitis, who is living in the Villanova area and working in Financial Services. “And that season of 2006 was nothing short of magical. We dedicated the whole season to Evan and he was in the back of our minds all year.
“We ended us winning the state championship and beating Haverford School in overtime (in the Eastern finals). They were ranked No. 5 in the nation at the time and had a ridiculous attack corps.”
Mackrides said the Brady family should be commended for its tireless work in building the event and the Foundation.
“Through them, Evan’s inspiration has been passed not only to me, but to everyone,” he said. “The Malvern Prep community is a tight community and so is the Philly lacrosse community, and what they do means so much.”
For more information about Evanfest or to get involved in the fundraising efforts, go to evanfest.com