by Audrey Pekny | April 27, 2018 8:00 am
On May 1, Ethan Tkalec will undergo a challenging medical procedure. Ethan has Giant Axonal Neuropathy (GAN), a condition that affects less than 50 families in the world. This procedure will last at least eight hours. This week, Riverside Brookfield created multiple opportunities for the community to show their support for Ethan and his family.
On Friday, April 27, the RB community gathered in the atrium to clap Ethan in when he entered the building. Many people there wore yellow T-shirts, as gold is his favorite color. Rock band t-shirts were also worn by some to show support and love for Ethan.
“I’m very excited about the whole day, and I feel surprised to see everyone wearing my shirts,” said Ethan.
Administration and staff saw this as an opportunity for the school to come together to support the Tkalec family.
“Whenever families/organizations can use assistance it is important for the Bulldog family to get involved. I think it says a lot about our staff and community as a whole,” said Dave Mannon, one of the key organizers of the event.
Although Ethan is only a freshman and has not been a part of our school for very long, he is very well known and has already made his mark at our school. Many people know Ethan for his sense of humor and spunky personality. He is always willing to befriend and talk to anyone.
“Most highschool freshman feel the need to fit in and act like someone they aren’t, but that’s not Ethan at all. He never feels the need to put on any sort of act,” said Jake Garvey.
Ethan’s family also created a foundation in his name that raises awareness and supports other families that are affected by GAN. One of the things RB incorporated into this week was the sale of All in for Ethan wristbands, which were sold from April 25-27 in the cafeteria.
“Ethan loves the attention. He wants everyone to know who he is and what he has,” said Nicolette Anderson, one of Ethan’s teachers.
Many of the people close to Ethan expected his normal positive outlook to change as the surgery date came closer, but say that he has not changed in the slightest.
“He always finds the positive, even if everybody else is negative. He always wants people to feel better. If someone is ever nervous or more quiet than usual he will do everything in his power to cheer them up, no matter what he’s going through,” said Ethan’s nurse.
Ethan is an active member in the RB chapter of Best Buddies, and has met many new friends throughout the year at all of the meetings and events. Jake Garvey, co-president of the club, was paired with Ethan at the beginning of the year and their friendship has soared.
“Ethan has really taught me to take life day-by-day and not to let little inconveniences ruin my day,” said Garvey.
During their lunch periods, students wrote cards addressed to Ethan with positive messages and well wishes. The cards were delivered to Ethan before he left the building.
Ethan is not your typical high school student. Many say that he is always motivated to try different activities and be more than just another student. He wants to be as involved as possible and puts effort into every activity he takes on.
“He is very relaxed in serious situations, but also has a very good sense of humor and overreacts towards little things to get people to laugh. He is also very understanding and mature, which is not common among most fourteen year olds,” said McKenna Doyle, one of Ethan’s close friends.
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