Success, courage and a cure

JMU’s Dawn Evans: “a big time person”

Everyone who follows women’s basketball knows the name Dawn Evans, but there’s more to her than a great jump shot and skillful ball handling. Dawn is a courageous young woman who is lending her success to change lives. Earlier this year, the NephCure Foundation announced an exciting outreach around JMU’s basketball standout and NephCure’s ambassador. According to NephCure’s press release: “The NephCure Foundation has launched ‘Sign on for Dawn,’ an online fundraising and awareness campaign designed to honor the accomplishments of James Madison University All-American point guard Dawn Evans, who suffers from the incurable kidney disease FSGS (Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis).” The NephCure Foundation supports research for kidney disease.

While I can tell you about Dawn and the good she’s doing, I thought I’d let someone else tell you.  That someone is writer George Robinson of the Clarksville, Tennessee, Leaf Chronicle, Dawn’s hometown paper.  With his permission, here’s what George has to say….

Dawn Evans, spokesperson for NephCure

Evans’ inspiration goes beyond basketball

“There’s a big-time basketball player fighting a courageous battle that most people probably have never heard of.

In this town, Dawn Evans is well known. Around the country, Evans has built a reputation as one of the nation’s deadliest shooters and a sure-fire WNBA lottery pick. Some may argue the James Madison point guard could be a No. 1 selection depending on the team and that team’s need.

The question for Evans isn’t if she belongs, it’s if she can play.

Evans has been dealing with a rare kidney disorder called FSGS (Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis), a disease that attacks the kidney’s ability to filter, and it often leaves scarring.

Evans was diagnosed last December — two days after dropping a team-record 38 points on 14th-ranked Virginia — and sat out 10 days after learning of the disorder. She missed only one game and went on to finish her junior season as the team’s leading scorer, the nation’s fifth-leading scorer (at 24.6 points), and doing all of this while her condition sapped her energy.

Right now Evans is handling the disease through medication while she stumps for FSGS as a national spokesperson for the disease.

We all love to talk about our future. We all love to prepare for the next step in our lives. Evans knows the WNBA is waiting, but she’s content with crossing that bridge when it comes. Evans lives in the moment.

I had the opportunity to set up an interview this past summer with Evans, through her father Rodney, just after it was announced she’d be lending her voice to create awareness for those who suffer similarly. Our paths never crossed this summer, but it doesn’t take a one-on-one interview to understand how brave a local athlete can be.

Living in the moment is something we all take for granted, despite the fact we all hear that phrase a million times in our life. Evans lives with the possibility that her disease may require a kidney transplant but until doctors tell her it’s time, Evans isn’t accepting that fate. She’s already proven what mind can do over matter. Despite the symptom of extreme fatigue, Evans led the Dukes in minutes played last year.

And no one who keeps up with women’s major college basketball has even considered a drop-off in her numbers as she enters her senior year. She’s expected to be a Wooden Award finalist for the nation’s best player and is 215 points away from the school’s career scoring record.

My guess is she’ll have both by March. But the same kid I marveled at in how she demanded and received respect by her Northeast High teammates four years ago was able to do the same as a freshman at James Madison in 2007-08.

Not only has she earned her team’s respect, she’s inspired a program, a school, those who suffer from the same condition and her hometown.

That’s more than a big-time basketball player, that’s a big time person.”

— George Robinson

For more information on the NephCure Foundation and “Sign on for Dawn,” check out these links:


About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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