Uncited Evandence

Kirsten McNeice
Staff Writer

 

 

 

 

8 a.m. Wake up for class. Take a shower. Brush your teeth. Brush your hair. Walk to class.

Photo Courtesy: Drew Broffman
Photo Courtesy: Drew Broffman

Now, imagine adding directions into your everyday life. Imagine memorizing every step and every right or left turn to get from your bed to class each morning.

To dissect your day, where would you start? You may measure it in how many Instagram likes you get  or favorites on Twitter; Evan Tansil, a freshman at Springfield College, measures his day in steps. At 6 foot one inch, Evan is a long and lanky man with a buzzed head, carved cheekbone, light brown skin, a white cane as tall as him, and beautiful multicolored eyes like a Husky.

“Uncited Evandence is my story. It is what is untold about me, and I am the only source,” said Evan. His story deserves to be told.

Rewind to Evan’s childhood when Evan was first having trouble with his vision. Terri Tansil, Evan’s mother, has faced her fair share of adversity in life, and this adversity has shaped her and her family to be the Tansils they are today. However, it was a bumpy road to get there, just like any other path less traveled. Yet the challenges she has been met with, especially in the past few years, could never take away from the memories of her son as a boy.

Her fondest memory of Evan was when the biggest concern he had was whether to use the red or the yellow crayon, and this is what defines him as the adult he is today. One morning Terri was going through the motions and dropping Evan and his older brother, Eric, off at school. Eric charged for the building after racing to unbuckle himself and took off like a horse out of the gate. Any other boy would have taken on the challenge and raced Eric to prove their competitive edge at that age, but Evan took no interest in the game. Evan howled at his older brother, “No Eric! Slow down! You’re going to get hurt!” Evan was always playful, but he had a sense of worry and maturity to him that was impossible not to notice.

“He has been an adult ever since I can remember,” said Terri. “He has taken on responsibility forever and even now he displays resilience through the harder times.” This memory stuck with Terri all these years because she felt it was the “older man in him” presenting himself for the first time.

Although doctors had told him that at some point his vision would deteriorate,  he did not realize how soon that would be, nor the seriousness of it. At age 15, Evan lost his eyesight and his world changed dramatically. He was having his regular ritual of video games before bed when he suddenly noticed that there was a smudge on the television that “looked like Jimmy Neutron’s head,” according to Evan. He was confused and somewhat frustrated, but decided to go to bed, thinking his eyes were just heavy and exhausted. Around 4 a.m. he woke up with a pounding headache and trudged to the bathroom to relieve his pain with some aspirin. When approaching the mirror, he was startled by what he saw, or moreso by a lack of what he could see. The blur from the television screen had spread and was everywhere! He was having a hard time even making out  his reflection. Evan composed himself and walked into his mother’s room, knowing that she would not be all that thrilled about waking up at such an early hour.

She knew it was serious when he said he could not go to school; Evan always went to school and was not one to argue or pick a fight. Out of urgency they set up an appointment with the doctor for the next day to get some answers, and they were told that his retina had detached. Evan’s response to the news was “I’ve heard so much stuff about my eyes that it wasn’t even shocking to me,It gets to the point where it’s just white noise hearing all this stuff that’s wrong with my vision.”

In 2011, things took another bad turn for the Tansils. When Evan went into the 10th grade he was struggling more and more It was so difficult for Evan to continue being in class for the last two months of the school year that he had to be home-schooled by his mom.

“Evan was so [frustrated] when he lost his sight,” said Terri. “For a while I didn’t even know who he was anymore. It was impossible to work with him like that.”

The journey was a tough transition for the Tansil family. In just one summer, he had numerous surgeries and traveled all the way to Michigan to get a proper look at his eye by another optometrist. Dr. Antonio Capone, an internationally recognized clinician, surgeon, and educator, has been named to America’s Who’s Who in Medicine, and The Best Doctors in America. In just one visit with him, Evan knew that there was much more to his situation.

Photo Courtesy: Drew Broffman
Photo Courtesy: Drew Broffman

Capone predicted that Evan had only a few months before he was completely blind, while his previous doctor had estimated years. Capone suggested to the family that a surgery be done immediately to prevent any further damage that would keep Evan’s eyesight where it is rather than lose it completely. There was not even a question for the family; they were completely willing to go through with the operation. The surgery was a success in that Evan has been able to retain a small amount of vision, and he  began to slowly gain back his optimism. He had a glimpse of hope that for a while was lacking in his life.

It came time that Terri decided the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, Massachusetts was the best thing to do for her son. Established in 1936, The Carroll Center has created many services for the blind and visually impaired. They have developed many methods for people with low vision to learn the skills to be independent in their homes, in class settings, and in their work places. Evan was not happy, to say the least, about this decision, and the drop off wasn’t any easier. Evan was still an adolescent, and new to his disability. While he still feels as though he could have overcome the challenges on his own, mothers are rarely wrong. Evan acknowledges that his mother’s decision was ultimately helpful. The eyes are useless when the mind is blind, so he replaced his annoyance with hopefulness.

When he allowed himself the chance to simply exist rather than dissect how things were, he met kids that had been blind their whole lives and saw brilliance in them. They had never had the experiences he did; yet they were so optimistic and talented. The students reminded Evan just what he was capable of.

By the end of Evan’s experience at the Carroll Center, he had paved his way. He was a new man with new friends and a new appreciation for himself and others. Evan now understood that nothing could hold him back, but that everything will have its obstacles.

“Sight is nice to have, but [blindness is] no barrier to who you become,” said Terri. Even though Evan’s experience at the Carroll Center was positive and beneficial, he did not wish to return. He was ready and prepared to move forward into bigger and better things using the tools he gained in that year.

Evan’s dream of being an audiologist is now at his fingertips. There is a high demand in this field, and his mother working at the hospital gave him a great advantage in learning the ropes. Seventy percent of those legally blind are unemployed according to Cornell University’s Disability Statistics, and Evan was bound and determined to defy the odds.

“My son is far beyond a social security check,” said Terri. “He deserves to contribute to society with his knowledge.”

Evan always had a way with numbers and calculations and in order to work as an audiologist, you have to be a natural. Evan’s ability to hear has literally directed his life. Ninety-five percent of what we learn about ourselves and the world around us comes through our sight and hearing. With Evan’s sight gone, he takes in the world with his ears, and his passion for that has driven him to his future.

Now that Evan has chosen Springfield College and created bonds with the new community, they sense his upbeat personality that many people have been drawn to.

“It’s not every day that you see someone who may knowingly face significantly more obstacles than others around him, yet still walks around like he’s on top of the world,” says Jasmine Jiles. Jiles, a close friend of Evan’s, admires the way he carries himself. His goofy ways bring out even the shiest of every crowd, and Jiles is one of many that has fallen for his entertaining nature. They met in New Student Orientation and she could sense his confidence from the start.

“He once explained to me that he is fascinated by all the shades he can see, when people are wasting their time following the Kardashians,” said Jiles. “He is so content with his gift that he makes blind seem luxurious. What I would give to see through his eyes.”

You don’t have to have inside jokes or childhood memories to form a relationship with someone when they are as engaging as Evan.

“We don’t have to analyze each other; he just understands,” says Jiles. “In a world like ours, it’s difficult to make light of what others may view as downfalls, and even more difficult to keep from stressing about them, but Evan makes it all so glorious.”

Someone’s spirit is intangible. It is not something that you can hold, see or feel, but it is something that is alive and remarkable. To appreciate someone’s spirit you cannot depend on your eyesight. You can only rely on your faith in diversity. In some ways, we are all the same. We all experience human nature, and we all have emotions. In other ways, we are all unique. No two people could ever have the exact same life experiences, nor could they possess the same mind.

Somewhere between what makes us the same and what defines us as different, is a fine line that is our beauty. Evan Tansil, a beautiful person from his soul to his skin, has changed the meaning of spirit. He is cited Evandence of true beauty.

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