Just a day before Central Hardin High School junior Evan Jones entered the fourth grade, he was presented with some bad news. Jones was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer that mostly affects people younger than 25.
Jones said he had to undergo more than six months of treatment, going into inpatient treatment for about a week at a time. The cancer was located in his arm, causing him to lose some function in his right arm.
Despite this ailment, Jones has persevered in his love of athletics and has proven to be a valuable asset on Central Hardin’s varsity football team. A kicker for the team, Jones connected on a 49-yard field goal last year and only missed one attempt last season.
“He is a role model for everyone in our school and community,” Central Hardin football coach Tim Mattingly said. “I am proud to be his coach.”
When he’s not playing football and taking part in Central Hardin’s Y-Club, Jones often is advocating for pediatric cancer research. His first experience with this started in 2012, when he began volunteering with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s local head-shaving fundraisers. Held each year at the State Theater, the event raises money for children’s cancer research.
When volunteering for the event, Jones said his job typically is to sweep up the hair. He said he has convinced several Central Hardin football players to shave their heads at the event.
Jones said any opportunity to support pediatric cancer research is important to him.
“I want kids to be able to have a good childhood,” he said. “...It tears a big hole in your childhood and I don’t want that for anybody.”
Jones’ mother, Heather, is the lead volunteer and organizer of the St. Baldrick’s Elizabethtown events. Each year, Jones joins his mother for a February visit to Frankfort as part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Day. They do this to encourage the appropriation of funds for the Kentucky Pediatric Cancer Trust Foundation.
Most recently, Jones and his mother visited the State Capitol Annex on Sept. 10, testifying to house budget leaders on the importance of pediatric cancer research. Jones has met with state Rep. Jim DuPlessis, state Sen. Dennis Parrett and other Kentucky legislators to discuss this topic.
In 2018, Kentucky lawmakers approved a first-time budget allocation of $5 million in childhood cancer research as part of the overall state budget bill.
Jones said he tries to make a difference with his testimonies.
“People who maybe haven’t been touched by cancer, it gives them some insight on what it’s like,” he said.
In addition, Jones serves monthly on Norton Hospital’s Teen Advisory Council with his sister, Hadley, providing Norton staff with a patient-minded perspective. Through his involvement on the board, Jones also spends time with Norton Hospital patients, playing games and eating with them.
He said any way he can help ease the burden of a cancer diagnosis for others is important to him.
“Anything I can do to brighten their day makes me happy,” he said.