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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Journey Just to Dance with Taylor Hicks



Taylor Hicks garnered international fame not only with his voice but also with his unique dance style as he moved through the ranks of American Idol and ultimately brought home the title to end Season Five. With that same golden voice and funky dance moves, Taylor again wowed audiences during his 2007 national and international tours. Yet it was during Taylor's last official performance of 2007 that his exuberent dancing proved to be a monumental moment in the life of one young fan.


Taylor Hicks' performance during halftime of the 2007 Liberty Bowl on December 29 was billed as the highlight of the event. True to style, Taylor wowed the crowd with his single "Heaven Knows" and "The Runaround". But mid-way through the performance his microphone suddenly went silent. Without a voice, Taylor's seasoned showmanship became apparent as he seemingly instinctively relied upon those dance moves to entertain the over 60,000 fans in attendance. On stage with Taylor were several children who had received medical care for life threatening illnesses from St. Jude's Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Taylor extended his hand to one of these children in an invitation to dance and help entertain the crowd. As fate would have it, the young man who "cut a rug" with Taylor that evening was a huge fan of Taylor Hicks and was also from Taylor's hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. To say that this child supported Taylor throughout his climb to fame would be an understatement. However, his illness had prevented him from actually seeing his hometown hero in a live performance. But at the Liberty Bowl that evening, this young man's dream was surpassed as TOGETHER he and Taylor gave a performance of a lifetime.
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Taylor's Angels is priviledged to share with you the story of this courageous boy, his fight for life and his "journey just to dance with Taylor Hicks". His mother penned these words:


Life as we know it changed on July 28 , 2006 when the word “cancer” was associated with my 5 year old son, Evan. We had been explaining away the aches and pains, fatigue, and crankiness for a couple of weeks and had, finally, convinced our pediatrician that these symptoms were not just a result of anemia. That fateful day has molded the rest of our lives. Evan was diagnosed at Birmingham Children’s Hospital with stage IV neuroblastoma, a cancer of the peripheral nervous system. Although this type of cancer is actually the third most common childhood cancer, it is the deadliest. The survival rate is 30%. That evening, we desperately searched for the best, the newest, the most extensive treatment program for our baby. We found St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. With a recommendation from our pediatrician, we arrived at St. Jude less than 48 hours from diagnosis, ready to fight with everything we had. Evan’s treatment plan consisted of a surgery to place a double Hickman catheter into his chest with which all chemotherapy would be administered and from which blood would be taken. This was followed by two rounds of low-dose chemo and nine rounds of high dose chemotherapy, most of which involved many nights in a hospital room. Evan also underwent a major surgery to remove his primary tumor in the abdominal area, which was unsuccessful due to the location of the tumor. After eight months of treatment, including countless medications, scans, blood transfusions, and shots to boost his white blood cell count, in spite of eight months away from our home and separated from our family, we discovered that Evan’s cancer had not responded sufficiently to the drugs he had been given. Three more doses of high dose chemotherapies were administered only to see no change. We were told that, although Evan had remained stable and in spite of his clinical health, Evan was terminally ill. Any further treatments would only be to prolong his life. Although these words were devastating, I knew then and continue to BELIEVE that no one knows our future except God. When we arrived at St. Jude in 2006, our once vibrant, dashing little man could barely walk. He could not climb stairs. He could not get into my small car. In June, even though the results of his scans were unfavorable, and still today, Evan can run, jump, skip and, most importantly, “cut” quite “a rug”! Since July, Evan has been on a clinical trial involving a special drug that is only given once a week over the course of an hour on an outpatient basis. It does not make him sick or tired. His hair has completely grown back. He has put on weight and he feels great! We were able to move back home to Birmingham and have lived a relatively what I like to call a “new normal” life. We are only impeded, most of the time, one day a week. We find ourselves extremely blessed that we chose St. Jude to treat our child and we feel that it was the best decision we could have made. We consider the doctors, nurses, staff members, and other patient families our family. Although extensive, Evan’s disease remains stable and we are trusting and BELIEVING in God’s plan. We know that ”all things work for good for those who love the Lord.”

Prior to Evan’s illness, our family watched American Idol religiously. By Season 5, Evan was old enough to understand what was going on and really got into the show. We were very excited to see Taylor Hicks, a Birmingham native, make it to Hollywood and were sold on his ingenuity and uniqueness from the beginning. We spent every week watching the show and rooting Taylor on. We were all very excited when he won!

Shortly after Evan's diagnosis and our arrival at St. Jude, someone sent Evan an American Idol door hanger to decorate. He spent quite a bit of time decorating it just the way he wanted, with “GO TAYLOR” letter stickers. It hung proudly on our hospital door for the remainder of our stay and then was transferred to our apartment door for quite a bit of time.Photobucket
As Taylor began his solo tour in the south in early 2007, we were provided tickets and possible backstage passes to meet Taylor Hicks in Huntsville, Alabama but when the time came to go, Evan was just too sick and too exhausted physically to attend the concert. We forfeited our tickets in hopes that one day we would have another opportunity to see him perform live. This little wish came true in a big way when Evan was invited to attend the 2007 Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee as a representative of St. Jude. He would have the opportunity to dance on stage with Miss Liberty Bowl as Taylor performed. Evan is a natural performer. He loves to dance and sing and has no qualms whatsoever about getting up in front of thousands to perform. Little did we know that this little opportunity would prove to be a big score for Evan! During Taylor’s first tune, Evan sweetly wiggled on the side of the stage with the other children. During the second song, however, Taylor’s microphone went out. With nothing left to do BUT dance, at this point, he pulled Evan out into center stage with him. This, of course, was a dream come true for our little guy! He “tore it up”! He was putting on the moves! As he danced with Taylor, his grin could have lit the stadium. He was in heaven! My eyes filled with tears as I screamed from the sidelines. I knew that this was a magical time for him and I was so thankful for that opportunity. For a very brief time after the performance, Evan, along with the other children, got pictures taken with Taylor and Evan had him sign his CD. My son was two feet taller with pride and his eyes glimmered with satisfaction.

Life has been rough for our little guy. He has endured more than any one person should have to endure, but he has done it with such grace and flair. He has lived life and continues to live life to the absolute fullest and has taken advantage of any moment, any place, and any person to spread his joy of living through his incredible personality and his undying energy and love. I believe that God places people in our paths to be an example for others – a shining star. I am blessed that one of these people that God has placed in my path is my own flesh and blood, my own shining star - my son.
Taylor Hicks- Liberty Bowl Halftime Show from edjorg on Vimeo.


Evan's family invites you to share in his journey by visiting his care site at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/evanthomason. They also ask for your prayers as Evan continues his treatment.






A WORD ABOUT ST. JUDE AND HOW YOU CAN HELP:

St. Jude is unlike any other pediatric treatment and research facility anywhere. Discoveries made there have completely changed how the world treats children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases.

They are where some of today's most gifted researchers are able to do more science, more quickly. Where doctors across the world send their toughest cases and most vulnerable patients. Where no one pays for treatment beyond what is covered by insurance, and those without insurance are never asked to pay. They've built America's 3rd-largest health-care charity, with a model that keeps the costs down and the funds flowing, so the science never stops.

All patients accepted for treatment at St. Jude are treated without regard to the family's ability to pay.

Taylor's Angels wishes to unite with the Soul Patrol in donating to St. Jude's Hospital in Taylor's name. An account is being set up so that the Soul Patrol can donate. The link is : Fans Care For St. Judes Kids

Taylor's name will appear within the next few days. Your donation will be greatly appreciated. Evan is proof of the help they provide!

Written by Tina (DidNotExpectThat)

Photos by Tina (DidNotExpectThat)

14 comments:

RagsQueen said...

I'm very happy for Evan that he got the opportunity to dance with Taylor because he was so cute on that stage!

And I'll keep Evan in my prayers for good news and successful treatments, and strength for his family to continue.

tishlp said...

I just realized something. The microphone cutting out happened for a reason, that was Evan's moment to shine.

tishlp said...

Thanks for sharing Evan's story. What a special child. He will be at the top of my prayer list.

sallyannlady said...

What a brave little boy, and what a wonderful thing for Taylor to do, even though he didn't realize that what he was doing meant so much. I loved watching the 2 of them together. and you're right, tiship- the mic cut out for a reason- to give a special little man the chance to shine with a very special man with a great big heart. Thank you for the story. God bless Evan and his family, and God bless Taylor.

Taylor's Angels said...

What a brave child. I was fortunate enough to be at the Liberty Bowl since I live just right down the street, and when Taylor started dancing with the children I knew it was a special moment then. little did I know just how special of a moment it was. Tish-- reading your take on it-- the "there are no coincidences" theory-- just gave me chills! You are 100% correct-- there was a larger force on the field that day that cut out that microphone. That just chokes me up!! Sometimes we lose sight of that, thank you for putting it into perspective for me.
Evan-- you sure are just about the bravest person I've ever heard of. You're a real trooper and we are blessed to know you through your story. Thank you and your parents for sharing it with us. Many prayers and good thoughts to each of you!
xoxo-
Leslie

maryann1 said...

There are so many things that happen in our lifetime that we simply cannot explain. They are controlled by a "higher power" and happen for a reason. This was one of those moments when Taylor's mic went out and Evan was right there to dance with Taylor and dance they did...A star was shinning down that day and everything seemed right with the world. The moment between Taylor and Evan could not have been better choreographed. It happened as it should and was beautiful and inspiring.

Bless Evan and Taylor...and all the children.

Very beautifully written.

tygrlillie said...

I saw that little man, and fell in love - just a little bit - with him. I didn't know anything about him until just now. Now, I am in love with him. How could you not be? He's a beautiful baby who has had to be so strong. Look how excited and healthy he is up there!!! I wish I could wrap him up in my arms, hold him and take all of the pain and sickness away from him. I know I can't, but believe me - if I could, I would.
And Taylor...God, man, what can I say? Every day, you remind me just how much I love you - with your generousity, your warmth, your giving heart, and just being you. I couldn't be more proud of you if I tried, darlin'.
God knew what he was doing - cutting that mic. As much as I don't care to miss Taylor's sweet voice, that gave us the opportunity to experiance a moment to be treasured. Evan, buddy - I live here in Tennessee, in a small town just outside of Music City. You come up this way, I'd be very offended if you don't swing by for a nice, big hug, my man. Or maybe the next chance I get to come to 'Bama, I'll drop in on you. Either way, close your eyes and feel the hugs, kisses, and love I am sending your way along with all the prayers I can manage. Mom, thanks for that beautiful story. You gave Evan to us, now, so you got a little power in your punch if you need it. Thank you for sharing your extra sweet and special young man with us. We'll treat him right, promise.
And Angels? Doggone, if you didn't do it again - make me cry like an old Hallmark commertial. I love you for it, though, because you help keep me humble - reminded of the things in life that are truly important. You amaze me.
~tyg

Anonymous said...

You guys are so right!!! The mike was karma- leave it to you lovely people to think of this!
Taylor has such a way with kids... God Bless him.
And God Bless Evan and his family- may they continue to have the strength and the courage they have.

Teri

DidNotExpectThat said...

Evan, even though Taylor was billed as the highlight of the halftime show, you made it a very memorable event. You were amazing and you were not even shy about dancing were you? You have inspired us all and we love you for it. We are so happy that you are feeling better and know that all of Taylor's fans are YOUR fans now, too! God bless you and your family!

Anonymous said...

What a sweet, wonderful, and humbling story. I will keep little Evan in my thoughts.

medolark said...

This is my favorite blog to visit. You share so many uplifing and encouraging stories. Thanks.

Another glimpse into the heart of our Taylor. I'm so proud of him. I will add Evan and his family to my prayers. I agree: everything happens for a reason and according to His plan. Ü

Bloom said...

Evan, you put big smiles on all of our faces, and you are a testament to the power of believing!

Tina, thank you for sharing Evan's and his mom's story here.
I have been following Evan's journal and this little guy is a real trooper!

Little boys are wonderful, though often wise beyond their years, when they're given a special task in life, and strength beyond their fears.

God bless Evan and his family.

Anonymous said...

Wow!! I loved this story about Little Evan. Once agian good job Taylor Hicks and Taylors Angels, you all bring so much happiness into the life of children that hasnt had much. Evan you are in our prayers

Anonymous said...

I loved the story of Evan he is a brave little boy. Thank You Taylor Hicks and Taylor's Angels for once agian for bringing happiness into a little childs life. Meeting Taylor gives them so much to live on and makes them so happy
Renee & Mallorie Sullivan