I would be lying if I said I knew Mike Evans well.
Sure, I knew Mike. He passed away in 2013 after a long bout with cancer, and there are a lot of people in Carthage who can say they knew him.
Mike was one of those guys who, if you met him once, you felt as if you had known him all of your life. I first met Mike about 10 years ago. At the time, Mike was trying to get a lunch spot to succeed out of his already successful Daylight Donuts at 431 S. Garrison Ave. in Carthage. The restaurant, which has since closed, was a popular lunch hangout for high school kids.
I met up with Mike to interview him for a story about high school football. Mike was a well-known and active booster of the Carthage High School football program. After that, I would run into Mike every now and again around town or whenever I would stop by the doughnut shop on Saturday mornings.
The last time I chatted with Mike was about two years ago. I talked to him about his cancer and the treatments he had to endure. As usual, Mike addressed the issue with honesty and humor.
“Now I know why they call it a fight,” he said.
But while Mike was fighting his battle with cancer, he, as was his nature, was also thinking of others. During the last few years of his life, Mike and his family organized Team Mike. The group was made up of dedicated folks who set out raising money for the American Cancer Society.
Team Mike has been one of the top fundraising groups in the annual Carthage Relay for Life. This year’s Carthage Relay for Life will be held on June 6, and Team Mike already has a fundraising project in the works.
Madison Lasiter is a member of Team Mike, and because she made the mistake of acknowledging that she has played a lot of softball, she is heading up the inaugural Mike Evans Home Runs and Hope Softball Tournament.
Madison became involved with Team Mike not because she knew Mike, but because her husband works with Mike’s sister Debbie and because her parents have been friends with the Evans family for years.
Madison said she had been involved with Relay for Life for a number of years before becoming a member of Team Mike. Like a lot of folks, Madison said her involvement with Relay of Life stems from a desire to honor the memory of a loved one.
“My great-grandmother, who basically raised me, died of cancer in 2005,” Madison said. “She first had breast cancer, and then it came back, and it spread and took her pretty quickly.”
Madison said that while Team Mike was formed to honor Mike Evans, it also serves as a tribute to all victims of cancer, survivors of cancer and everyone affected by the disease.
“We all want to honor Mike. He was a big part of our community, and his death was a big loss for the community,” she said. “It is in his honor, but we are also remembering more than one person.”
Madison said that when she works to raise money for the American Cancer Society, she does so with a lot of people on her mind.
“Watching my great-grandmother go through what she did, and meeting other people and seeing what they went through, and seeing a lot things that just broke my heart made me want to fight for people who can’t fight anymore,” she said.
The Mike Evans Home Runs and Hope Softball Tournament will be held April 27 at the Carthage Adult Softball Complex. The round-robin tournament is a 7/3 coed event, which means that each team must have at least three females on the field. The entry fee is $100 per team, and the deadline to register for the tournament is April 17. To register a team, people may call 417-438-4054.
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