By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 11/16/12
A sold-out gathering of 200 people helped raise as much as $10,000 Thursday for families that have a child with a life-threatening disease at the inaugural EVANFEST Lacrosse Dinner at Drexelbrook in Drexel Hill.
In an event that featured a star-studded cast of guest speakers, support poured out for a cause sparked by a Malvern Prep lacrosse player who battled a terminal cancer like few have fought on the field.
Evan Brady was a youth lacrosse standout who showed courage and dignity while battling osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer) for several years until passing away at the age of 19 (his jersey number) in 2005. Evan served as a coach and mentor, and more importantly, a role model, to all despite steep odds.
On Thursday dozens of his friends, teammates and supporters came to Drexelbrook to honor a cause that has already raised $550,000 and served 150 families. Most of the money has been raised (which goes directly to the families) through the EVANFEST youth lacrosse tournament; the seventh annual EVANFEST lacrosse festival will be held on Saturday, April 6, 2013 at Malvern Prep.
The foundation was started and is run by Bill Brady, Evan’s father. But this foundation goes deeper because Evan’s friends have taken on key roles in raising money and executing more fundraising opportunities, such as the Dinner and sales of t-shirts.
The Master of Ceremonies for Thursday’s event was Philly lacrosse legend Brian Dougherty, the head coach at Chestnut Hill College who recently was inducted into the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Special guest speakers included three of the biggest names and top coaches in Philly lacrosse: Haverford School coach John Nostrant, La Salle College High and Chesapeake Bayhawks assistant coach Tony Resch (also Wings legendary player and coach) and Princeton coach Chris Bates.
Nostrant, who himself is a cancer survivor, mentioned many of the other causes being fought by Philly’s lacrosse community; such as his own Checking for Cancer, Katie Samson, HEADstrong and Cuddle My Kids.
“The game of lacrosse is great, but what makes it so great is all of us helping,” he said. “What we do as a Philly lacrosse community is helping families when they are down.
“This lacrosse community sets itself apart from any other lacrosse community in the country and I am proud to be a part of that.”
Besides the many jokes (and digs against the Philadelphia Eagles) from the candid Dougherty, the event also featured a silent auction and a highlight movie on Evan’s life. It was mentioned that one of his former teammates, Ian Mitchell, raised $50,000 for EVANFEST in one season as the quarterback at Dickinson College.
“It was run by the kids,” said Brady. “The support never stops, and it keeps growing. It’s awesome that all (Evan’s) friends are out of college and in the working world and they are getting involved. With them involved I can see this going on for a long time.”
One of Evan’s friends who has been highly involved in the foundation and has spearheaded the t-shirt sales is Andrew Mackrides (Penn State).
“We collaborated with the Brady family, obviously; we are trying to do whatever we can as Evan’s friends to raise as much money as possible and share with these families,” Mackrides said. “We came up with the idea around spring time and every month from there on out we shared stories on how we can come together and bring everyone we know in the lacrosse community and have a nice event.
“We want to keep it going through the years.”
Bates, who began his Philly coaching career in 1992 at Archbishop Ryan and like Nostrant and Resch played for the Philadelphia Wings, said Evan Brady’s legacy was his gift of living, not dying. Bates himself received an outpouring of support for years as his wife, Ann, battled a brain tumor before passing away almost exactly a year ago.
“This community has done it for me,” he said. “In 2003 when my wife was diagnosed with a brain tumor, my team, Harley, had meals made for us for 3 months.
“I said to Mr. Brady that we have to celebrate life. To see all these people reaching out, their love and care – that there are 200 people here for the first banquet is amazing.”