COVINGTON, Va. – UPDATE
Community members helped a local family surpass their $48,000 fundraising goal for their son’s best friend, Evan Groves, who is battling a rare skin disorder.
The money will go toward an expansion to Evan’s bedroom to create an ADA-compliant bathroom. The Willis family is also making sure Evan gets a hospital bed.
A family in Covington is raising money for their son’s best friend, who’s battling a rare genetic skin disorder.
Life for 11-year-old Evan Groves has never been easy, as he was born with a disorder called epidermolysis bullosa which makes his skin extremely fragile, allowing for blistering or tearing with minor friction or trauma.
"The doctors told us he wouldn't make it past a year old," Evan’s mother Christina McLaughlin said. “It's challenging, very challenging. Every day is a different day."
10 News first told you about the bond between Evan and Parker Willis back in 2017. Parker is always caring for his best friend at school, able to understand almost every word he says, be it soft spoken because of his trach.
"Yeah, we're best friends,” Parker said. “I help him with the simple stuff that I can."
Their unbreakable bond started in kindergarten, bringing two families together along the way.
"They took off with each other and have been best buddies ever since," Parker’s dad David Willis said. "If you would see what he has to deal with every day, the places on his skin that break out and stuff ... I don't see how he's so strong."
To try to make life a little easier, the Willis family came up with a plan to help soothe what’s become a daily, two-to-three hour battle because of Evan’s condition: bath time. Their solution is an addition onto Evan’s bedroom. It would be ADA compliant with a shower stall so Evan can stand or fit his wheelchair, an exam table for his mother to bandage his wounds and other accommodations for his condition.
Contractors expect the addition to cost $48,000. That's why the Willis family is reaching out to the community for help.
"Maybe it won't take us 2-3 hours to do a bath and bandage, maybe it'll be less time for him, less pain maybe,” McLaughlin said.
“’Amazing,’ he says. He's excited," Parker said, translating Evan’s words.
A simple plan to ease the burden of a difficult diagnosis at the hands of friends, turned family.
"This child is in pain every day. Every day. I just want him to have a good day,” Willis said.
Click here if you’d like to donate to Evan’s addition.
People can also donate to an account set up for Evan Groves at Highlands Community Bank in Covington.
Iron Gate Baptist Church plans to do a steak dinner fundraiser for Evan Groves on Mar. 21. A special offering received on Mar. 22 will also benefit Evan.