The community turned out en masse Saturday at Pedro St. James for KidFest, an event held in honor of the memory of baby Nolan Evans. Young Nolan passed away in January after a seven-month battle with congenital heart defects, and his parents are hoping to allay the pain for future Cayman families.
Sean and Ailian Evans have taken their tragedy and turned it into a platform for philanthropy. More than 200 children and 200 parents showed up at Pedro St. James on Saturday, and Mrs. Evans said on Sunday that they had raised more than $15,000 for Hart for Hearts and the Cayman Heart Fund.
“It’s wonderful. People have been very generous and we are thankful for the great support,” said Mrs. Evans of the community’s response to Nolan’s legacy. “Our mission is to raise awareness about Congenital Heart Defects in the Cayman Islands as well as raise funds for families with CHD babies who are in need; hence why we are donating the funds to Hart for Hearts and the Cayman Heart Fund.”
Nolan would have celebrated his first birthday on June 21, and KidFest brought together local families in one of Cayman’s most beautiful locations. There was a bouncy castle, face-painting, arts and crafts, and animal petting lined up as activities, and families could get a professional portrait taken.
For Mrs. Evans, the entire day was sad with the memory of Nolan but also hopeful for the future.
“It’s heartbreaking, but at the same time, it’s rewarding,” she said. “This is the way I wanted to carry his legacy and honor his name. I know he can’t be here, unfortunately, due to his heart condition. His heart was incompatible. He went through seven heart procedures and I was by his bedside until his last breath. I didn’t know about his heart problem in the womb; it was diagnosed after he was born.”
The Center for Disease Control in the United States says that congenital heart defects affect nearly 1 percent – or about 40,000 – of the births that take place in the U.S. on an annual basis. A little more than four percent of all neonatal deaths are due to a congenital heart defect, according to the CDC.
Mrs. Evans said the family is already looking forward to hosting KidFest again in 2019.
The family raised $9,000 through the many generous sponsors of KidFest, and another $6,000 was raised through Saturday’s activities. Pedro St. James was the perfect location for the family fun day, said Mrs. Evans, because it gave the kids plenty of room to run around and have a good time.
“I like it because it’s the perfect venue for kids to be free to enjoy and have a great time,” she said. “It’s beautiful and has a beautiful view. I just wanted a beautiful venue to host Nolan’s birthday.”