"Evan's journey" is the one he takes every day. Every little step - the physio, the ever increasing bits of independent walking, the walk to school - but also the frustrations that we don't get chance to do more, that he isn't progressing as much as he might and the worries that we might tire him out too much and for what the future holds for him.
"Evan's Big Journey" is the behemoth, the giant, the beast that we created to help us get Evan to St Louis, to change his life and to change ours. It's a nice beast - one we are massively proud of creating,one that changed our lives, and, in as many ways, changed the lives of those around us. One that we owe so much to. However, on the whole these days, its appearances are less frequent and we easily forget how exhilarating and tiring those can be.
It reappeared with great force with the whole "walk to school" thing and we thought that would be that. Until, that is, Ev returned from school with a note in his school bag;
"invite / o2 / Evan / award / Leeds ballet / July / Mark / phone number....".
That's all we had to go from... So, I made the call and spoke to Mark - who happened to be producing the O2 Yorkshire Media Awards at the Leeds Ballet Centre, and they wanted Evan to present an award. We want to give Evan every opportunity that comes along - but I wasn't sure what to do with this one. Did they know that Ev was an 8 year old boy... after all, if you google the name there are two, and one is a well renowned Australian journalist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evan_Whitton). But no, it was our version - Mark was a great guy and we spoke for a few minutes about what Evan could/nt do (and that he might get nervous) and we kept in touch.
Things got closer and, keeping things under wraps, we got increasingly excited as the event came upon us and we got a preview of the script, suggested questions, etc. I had to arrange a "night off" a "residential work thing" I was doing but the team were great in acknowledging it was such a great experience - and how right they were....
We arrived at Leeds Ballet Centre and were ushered to the "green room" (yes, I did just type that....) and over the period of the next couple of hours were introduced to, and had the chance to chat to, some actors, a top British dress designer and a boxing champ along with some lovely "back stage people" (too many names to remember - but they were all so helpful).
We were then taken backstage, while out front they were watching the video of Evan's walk to school, and then he was up (with his glamorous assistant, Mum...). Ushered onto the stage, he had decided to go for his crutches as he feels a bit safer with them.
The reaction was amazing. A crowd of practically complete strangers giving our little boy a standing ovation. On their feet, cheering and clapping.
The presenter (Emma) asked Evan a couple of questions and then asked him to name the winner (which we'd had a sneaky look at beforehand so he could practice). All he had to do was to say the name. No problem. Simply say the name.
However, he took a step forward and said, "I can now reveal that the winner is" <pause> "Paul Walker".
The reaction was amazing - such a mixed reaction, people looked like they were crying, laughing and perhaps both. The following is a clip of the crowd reaction as he came off.
We managed to hang around for a little while and watched a couple more awards until Ev got tired and then we headed home. It had been a long day...
When I got back to the hotel ("residential work thing", remember...) I checked my phone - seeing that Evan's pic had been tweeted - by a real, proper, tv celeb. Then, cue the usual flurry over the next day or so of further twitter activity, emails, photo uploads, facebook, etc.
"Evan's Big Journey" is a modern day beast, a multi-online-faced creature, but an amazing and benevolent beast. It took us to wonderful places, and continues to do so, we're very lucky....