When he was 7, Austin Evans raised enough money to send 17 Vietnamese orphans to school for a year. This year, the Edmond boy hopes to send even more.
“I want to help my friends. Some are in the United States, and some are still in Vietnam,” Evans said. Evans and his parents, Kim and Bill Evans, have started a tradition of giving back to the country where Austin was born and lived the first few years of his young life.
Austin Evans has started his own fundraising campaign, “Austin's Change for Children.”
He and his family have come up with several ways to raise money, which will be donated to Dillon International, the humanitarian aid and international adoption agency in Tulsa that facilitated the Evans' adoption of Austin when the boy was almost 4 years old.
Evans and his family will host a Flapjack Fundraiser at Applebees Neighborhood Grill and Bar, 2610 W Memorial, from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday. The cost is $7 per person and $5.15 will directly benefit Austin's Change for Children.
Just $100 will send a Vietnamese child to school for a year, the Evans family noted.
Additionally, the family will raffle a set of Thunder tickets in support of the fundraiser. The fundraising is one way the Evans family shows their gratitude to God for bringing them together, family members said.
In 2006, Bill and Kim Evans thought they were finished raising children. Their daughter was about to graduate from high school and go off to college when a family acquaintance sparked an idea that would change the couple's lives.
The acquaintance had adopted a child from Vietnam. Soon the Evans heard about Austin, who had been left at an orphanage in the Vihn Long Province by his birth mother when he was only a day old.
“She made an adoption plan for him, and she made sure that when she left him, she had him warmly wrapped up and left him somewhere that they would find him immediately. She wanted a good life for him,” Kim Evans said.
When Evans visited the Dillon International website, she found photos of many Vietnamese children who needed homes and parents.
She saw a photo of Austin and said she just knew that he was meant to be her son.
“He looks like me, doesn't he?” Bill Evans joked when his wife showed him the photo of their future son.
The couple agreed to “start over” and adopt Austin but had to wait a year for the adoption to be finalized.
Vietnam is not presently open for international adoptions with the United States, but Dillon International continues its humanitarian efforts there.
There are many children, especially older ones, in need of adoption from other countries in the agency's Waiting Child program, said Susan Serrano with Dillon International.
Presently, Dillon International and affiliated Buckner Adoption and Maternity Services offer inter-country adoption programs in China, South Korea, Haiti, India, Hong Kong, Colombia, Ghana, Ethiopia, Russia and Honduras, Serrano said.
For information on adoption, go online to www.dillonadopt.com.
Today, Austin is an active 8-year-old — full of energy, loves sports, especially karate and golf.
He's a purple belt and can drive a golf ball 150 yards straight, his dad said.
But Austin is wise beyond his years in that he feels a sense of thanksgiving for his lot in life.
Austin says he knows he's lucky to have been adopted by such a caring family, and he is proud that he is able to help children who are not as fortunate.
His parents say they hope to instill in their son a spirit of giving back to his community.
“We're not in this life to be alone, and we're not in this life to hoard. We need to share,” Bill Evans said.
How to help
For information about the Flapjack Fundraiser, to buy raffle tickets or to donate directly to the cause, email austinschange