LANCASTER, Wis.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Evan John Hauk of Lancaster, Wis., was taken from the world too soon when he was preparing for a family fishing trip on July 6, 2011. He was using worm prods to search for bait in the backyard when he fell on top of a prod and suffered an electrical shock that stopped his heart. He was only 13½ years old.
“Evan had a heart of gold,” said his mother Jessica. “His smile would light up a room. He always knew when you needed a hug or laugh. He had a way of starting to laugh at the smallest thing, then he’d keep laughing and start to make others laugh, and then he would laugh about laughing.”
Evan had bright blue eyes that lit up when he smiled. He loved fishing, hunting, football, snow skiing, water skiing, hiking in the mountains, and being outside. He was a natural athlete and excelled at just about any sport he tried. He could catch fish when no one else would. He was always finding adventures with his sister since they were only 13 months apart, and he taught his little brother how to play football, baseball, and various other sports.
Jessica said that donating Evan’s tissue was a very easy decision to make. “When we knew Evan’s heart wouldn’t start again, the nurse asked me if we had thought about donation. I answered yes immediately,” Jessica said. “While it wasn’t something we thought about often, I always knew I wanted to be a donor. If anything were to happen to anyone else in my family, I’d hope they’d donate as well. A classmate of mine had passed away in a drowning accident when I was 13, and I remembered his family donated his corneas. I always thought that was a very special way for him to continue on.”
Jessica said she knew Evan would want to help others if he could. They donated his corneas, heart valves, and the bones and connective tissue from his legs. “They were good strong legs, built for football and skiing,” Jessica said. “His eyes were sharp as can be and he could see fish in the water, a deer in the woods or pick out the football on the field like none other. They called him Hawk in football.”
Evan is being honored for his gift of tissue donation in a special way through a memorial portrait called a floragraph, which will adorn the 2014 Donate Life Float in the Rose Parade on January 1, 2014 in Pasadena, Calif. Evan’s floragraph is decorated with grains, flowers, seeds, spices and other organic materials, and is one of 81 that will grace the Donate Life float. The Hauk family had the opportunity to place the finishing touches on Evan’s floragraph earlier in the month at a special ceremony.
The ceremony was hosted by RTI Donor Services, the not-for-profit tissue recovery agency that facilitated Evan’s tissue donation and is sponsoring Evan’s floragraph on the float, as well as the trip to Pasadena, Calif. for Evan’s family to participate in the Donate Life float festivities and sit in the grandstands as the float carrying Evan’s portrait travels by. RTI Donor Services, celebrating its 15th year in Wisconsin, is a founding sponsor of the Donate Life Float and one of more than 100 associations across the nation supporting the float project.
Evan’s heart was made of gold, so if he could help another to live a longer, healthy life, the Hauk family wanted to help make that possible. “He lived a very full life in his short 13 years on Earth and did more than many do their entire lives,” Jessica said. “We hope whoever has received the gifts from him will do the same.”
“Donation is helping Evan to live on,” Jessica said. “It keeps his memory alive and we know that somewhere out there someone has a part of him and is living a better life because of him.”
“Knowing that there are two people out there who can see the world clear again means a lot to us,” Jessica said. “We hope one day they will see some of the things Evan got to see with his amazing eyes - like the mountains of Colorado with their beautiful waterfalls and views from the top of the world. We hope that those who receive his heart valves or tissues and bones from his legs use them to find adventure and live life. We hope to one day hear from these individuals and maybe share just how special of a kid Evan was and is.”
Today, more than 120,000 children and adults await life-saving organ transplants in the United States. Hundreds of thousands more are in need of a tissue transplant to save or greatly enhance the quality of their lives. Visit www.donatelife.net/register-now to find out how to designate your donation wishes in your state.
More information on the Donate Life float is available on the float’s official website at www.donatelifefloat.org.
RTI Donor Services is a not-for-profit tissue recovery agency dedicated to serving donor families and working in collaboration with the donation community and healthcare facilities in perpetuating the gift of tissue donation.