The Hartsell family came into our family's life before Evin was born. The military family was our family as well. Scott and my husband John were at Paris Island, South Carolina working together in the Marines, training boots. We lived in Laurel Bay housing about three houses down from each other. In another life I do not know if we would have become the friends we did during that time. Melisa was much younger than I, very fit, a bodybuilder and I was older and exercise was foreign to me with three children. We bonded over my youngest Amanda and Alex’s friendship! Those two loved to play together! I was there when she was pregnant with Evin. We bonded over military life and the stress that brings, but we also formed a friendship I have always remembered many years later. I have a fleeting memory of her having a hard birth with Evin. I remember Scott’s worry. I remember her strength. I remember that precious baby boy we were so happy to meet when she came home from the hospital. I remember how excited Alex was. I remember holding him the first time and how weak he was from being born. As luck would have it we moved to Quantico, Virginia together for yet another military adventure. Once again we were neighbors about three houses down from each other. Alex and Amanda remained friends while we were there. I remember Evin as a beautiful baby. I remember Melisa being worried about him, but not knowing why or what was happening to her baby boy. I could not help her other than to be her friend when she needed me. I wish I could be more clear on the day she found out about Evin, I just know I watched Alex for her whenever she needed me to.
We moved onto different paths when Evin was still a baby. No more duty stations together. Christmas cards and notes to keep up. I knew she had Nathan, I knew they moved to Tennessee, I knew they left the military behind, but did not know why until now. I know the Scott, Melisa, and Alex, Evin talks about in his book. Scott being stern, demanding, and deeply religious. Melisa being strong and loving. Alex being his helpful big brother. We all encounter many people in our lives and are profoundly impacted by them in many ways. Scott and Melisa taught John and I a card game called “May I” one night at their home probably after a shared dinner. This game became a Kenney family tradition taken home to our family and was played every Christmas and holiday we were together. It is now our family game and we are teaching our eldest grandson to play now. It is a small thing, but I always remember our friendship from those days so long ago when we played. Melisa and I found each other on Facebook once again and have been able to glimpse into each other's lives over the years since. She remains the strong, very fit, young woman I knew 30 years ago. If God had a plan for Evin and his legacy of life I know he planned for his parents to be Scott and Melisa Hartsell. I know God made the right choice.
When I found out about Evin’s death I was heartbroken for him, his family and all they lost. Until I read his book I had no idea how much his life impacted so many others. I read his book and laughed, cried, reconnected with this young man and his family through his eyes. I loved the photos because they were the Evin I knew as a small child. I wish I had known him as he grew and faced all of the challenges Muscular Dystrophy brought. I have been an advocate for LGBT for many years since leaving our military life years ago. I am so glad I met him ever so briefly during his short life. I will never look at a disabled person the same way again! Enabled was Evin not disabled!
A raw read and insightful journey through the mind, soul and life of a disabled young man. By revealing his struggles, feelings, and life, Evin told his story so others would be more comfortable and aware of the disabled. After reading this book, I hope you feel as I did. The desire to change the world to see the inner person, show kindness and offer mercy. To add to this world a better environment where the disabled can achieve their dreams and feel included.
Upon reading Evin Hartsell’s book “Abled in a Disable World”, I was pleasantly surprised. Not just touched by the compassionate way he presented his story, but I also learned some things about myself. I knew that the book would include challenges. I also knew how it ended. Scott had suggested that I read the first and last chapters before reading the rest. I have had disabled friends in the past and I thought that I had a pretty good understanding of their lives and even a glimpse into their point(s)of view. When Evin discussed his attraction to men, I realized that I have been totally ignoring some of our own human condition and how it exists in others. I had never really given it much thought. I think I had just assumed that if someone was incapable of having sex, they didn’t desire it. Looking back on this realization, I now see Evin in much the same way that I would see a Captain without his ship…or a race car driver without his car. If you have ever met a Sea Captain, you will know exactly what I am talking about. Just because the ship isn’t there, he is still very much a Captain. I never met Evin in person, but he touched me nonetheless. Thank you Captain Evin!
Awesome interview with Bill Muckler. Watched it all(twice). Some of it made me cry, some of it made me laugh. But most importantly, it described In perspective the way that Evin was and viewed the world. He really seems like he was a remarkable young man. He proved that if you want something in life, then you go out and get it. The world doesn't owe anyone anything. You want it, go get it. He proved that with the way you and your wife described him growing up. A brilliant, intelligent young man who had so much more purpose left here on earth. Getting a Bachelor's Degree in psychology, working on his Master's, writing a book. This young man knew no limits. I can't wait to read the book that I'm ordering, as soon as I'm done posting this. He seems to have been more of a teacher than a student. Semper Fi Sir and God bless you and your family. Rest easy Evin B. Hartsell....️
Marine who served with Evin’s Dad
"I just watched your interview on YouTube regarding your son Evin.... Its truly a amazing story and I'm so honored and touched to know him through you..... I struggle with chronic depression and PTSD...... Just the little bit of your son's story that I know has motivated me to take a closer look at who I am and what I need to do with my life.... Sir I'm ashamed to say that I have fallen short of what the Marine Corps taught me... Going forward I'm going to try to take a different approach to my life and my struggles.... Your sons story is amazing... I cant tell you how lucky and honored I am to have served under your command.."
Marine who served with Evin’s Dad
I loved that Evin loved to sing, dance and to find the spirit to do things out of his comfort zone. Even though it was a difficult process for the Hartsell’s to find nursing care for Evin, I think that Jennifer, Miss Kathy and Shawn started him along his journey of being independent. I’m sure it was difficult on Scott and Melisa but God gave them the strength to let him go. One of my favorite stories was when Miss Kathy took Evin trick or treating and that they continued it every year after while she cared for him. They all went out of their way help Evin to make his own decision even when it terrified Scott and Melisa. In some ways Evin was a typical teenager being defiant, talking back and not following the rules. But his parents, his brother and his caretakers would have none of that.
Evin wrote a poem about his Dad in 2004 which I have to admit brought tears in my eyes. I had a difficult relationship with my Dad and it wasn’t until he was diving that we were able to get to know each other. Evin had the same experience with Scott. I felt so many emotions reading Evin’s book. He was so honest, funny and didn’t hold anything back. The moment that Evin stopped hoping to change his life and decided he “will” make changes as best he could. It inspired me to do the same. He stopped feeling sorry for himself and decided if things wouldn’t change then it was up to him to make it happen. Evin said “Change often comes to me by persisting through failure. After all, if you persist , you haven’t failed… you’ve only had a setback”. That is a very profound statement. It made me think about my own life. I have always hoped that things would be different but Evin changed my mind. If Evin could do it so can I. So now I will take risks and not hold back. No one can change my life but me. Two of my favorite verses in the Bible are; Philippians 3:14 “I press to the goal to win the prize which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus The other is Mark 10:27 “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God”. Both verses remind me of how Evin kept pressing on and that all things are possible with God even when we feel like He’s not there.
Thank you Evin for sharing your story with all of us. You have inspired me to live differently and I know you have inspired many other people in your life. I’m sorry we never got to meet in person but I look forward to meeting you in Heaven someday. I know you’re singing and dancing with the angels. Thank you Scott and Melisa for I adding photos contained in Evin’s book. I loved seeing them and it made Evin’s story more personal. The Halloween photos were hysterical and the family photos helped me to see all the people that were so important in Evin’s life. I don’t think I’ll ever get the image of Scott dressed up like the Hulk out of my mind. I have come to realize how strong the Hartsell family is and how much they loved Evin and how much he loved them even when things were difficult. See you in Heaven Evin. God bless you all!
Evin was able to overcome depression and a lack of purpose to become a productive man, helping and encouraging others along the way.
Evin’s story lets you experience “his world” and from that you cannot help but to be inspired and also grateful for so many things we take for granted.
Evin points that out on the first page. Once you get the feel for his life, you are inspired not only by Evin and his determination to be positive despite his situation, but by his family and their constant care for him through so many challenges.
Thank you, Evin, for sharing what most of us would never know.
We can be the change!
I just lived in Evin’s World this last week as I read his life. What an extraordinary young man. His spirit, and “can do” heart is one in a billion. Evin’s story has inspired me to be better and to give more to others. It has to be noted that it was the love and support of his family that also inspired him to be who he was. Congratulations Melisa and family for a life to inspire others. You have a huge fan here!
Evin’s father and I served in Iraq together in 2004 and then lost touch after our return home. By a chance encounter on the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs website I saw Scott’s name and we reconnected. It was only then that I learned of Scott and Melisa’s loss and the inspirational story of their son, Evin. I downloaded Abled in a Disabled World and read it in pretty short order.
Evin’s words personalized the battle against Muscular Dystrophy for me. Like many in my generation, I watched many a Labor Day MDA Telethon hosted by Jerry Lewis, but was never personally touched by the disease. Although I had never met Evin, as I read his words about life with MD it made it real for me. It certainly caused me to reflect on my own life and blessings. I have never had to rise to such a challenge as Evin and his family did. I was never aware of Scott’s challenges at home as we strived for excellence as Marine officers and he never let it interfere with his professionalism and proficiency. I don’t know if I could have done the same.
More significant however, is the fact that I know I could never have been able to live the life that Evin did, in spite of his challenges. He was more optimistic about his certain fate than most Americans seem to be when they have an uncertain but full life ahead of them. His story is not only educational, but truly inspirational.
We certainly live in a Disabled World. Evin’s story is a wonderful way to help you or someone you know learn to be Abled despite life’s certain
Colonel, USMC (Ret)
What an awesome story of a great young man who's heart & determination is of a level that we all should strive to achieve. I rarely get choked-up, but the story of Evin's life makes me appreciate what God has given me, but makes me see that I should be doing more to contribute to this world. To my 1/6 brothers, check out this website, https://www.evinbhartsell.com/ and if able, support this awesome foundation. Also, check out this video attached and like/share it.
Marine who served with Evin’s Dad
Abled in a Disabled World, by Evin B. Hartsell is a compelling story about the struggles of a young man with congenital merosin-deficient muscular dystrophy. Abled in a Disabled World’s couple hundred pages do not take long to read, but though that journey might not take long, it does take an emotional toll on the reader. You will experience what it is like for a young man to live with a disease that robs him of his ability to stand, walk, feed himself, dress himself, bathe himself or do most of what we take for granted every day. However, this disease did not rob Evin of his ability to race around in his wheelchair nor did it rob him of his sense of humor or his ability to express himself and let the reader experience vicariously his too short journey. Evin does not mince words nor does he hold back in his interpretation of his relationships with his family, friends, nurses, and teachers.
You will experience life with Evin from his parents and brother’s viewpoint and the struggles they endured living with one whose life was precarious. The book could be categorized as a “coming of age” genre as Evin delves into his teenage lackadaisical attitude and emerges as a young adult with a can-do attitude and college degree.
Having known and worked closely with Evin’s father for the past 10 years, I can attest that Evin takes after his dad with his can-do attitude and the Hartsell family’s epic journey was one with the Almighty in the driver’s seat.
Bruce H. Hemp
I have had opportunity to read Evin’s autobiography last week and I have to say that it has transformed the way I see things on a day to
day basis. This book has provided me with insight on how I view things in life which allows me to make change my perspective in life. If I had to
describe Evin in one word it would be “perseverance”. Receiving a small glimpse of his life and his trials and tribulations and the
strength and mindset through it all is extraordinary. The entire Hartsell family are an amazing group of people and everyone can learn
from them in a multitude of ways.
I want to thank Evin and his family for opening my eyes to new viewpoints in life. It is rare when I come across and book that touches me in multiple areas. I am better person after reading this book and I has transformed the way I think about my daily hardships that I encounter. It was an honor and privilege to learn about Evin and donate to his foundation. I would highly recommend this book to anyone.
Gunner Sam Shin, USMC
Many of our closest family friends are those we shared parenthood with as we raised our children. Joanie and I were acquainted with many of the extended Hartsell family including Scott's mother and brother in Memphis before Scott and Mellisa moved there. Sharing a like Christian faith and having three daughters that matched the ages of the Hartsell three boys meant we would be sharing lots of memories and experiences within the same Church family in Memphis. Our children stayed close through the years and we were blessed to have them in our homes many times. Our oldest daughter Amber I think helped convince Alex to transfer to WKU where he would eventually meet his wife. Evin would visit with us on occasion when Melisa needed to run some errands. His imagination and engagement were not ever a thing to miss. The depth of play with Aurie our second and of same age as Evin was fun to watch. Memories of his speeding chair with Aurie riding behind and hanging on for dear life is a special memory. Enabled or Disabled were not words that come to mind when I think of Evin. I think my word would be Relevant. From earliest of ages whenever I was with Evin, I recognized this kid created space for himself and created relevance. At the end of the day, that is a skill to be most desired for us all and few of us achieve it to Evin's level. Relevance is what leaves footprints. Evin left footprints wherever he went. After leaving Memphis, the Hartsell's likewise moved to Florida and we went several years apart. A few years ago, we found ourselves moving to Tampa near the Hartsell's again and had a chance to get reacquainted. Evin had grown up, was in college and focused. No surprise there. He was still creating space and relevance only now in ever largercircles. I consider his father one of my best friends and was greatly honored when asked to speak at Evin's life celebration service. Evin accomplished so much in his time with us. He left footprints in my life that will never fade. His words will have the same effect on you.
Evin Hartsell’s life is worth reading about. I am thankful that he spent a part of his life on the campus of Florida College. You cannot learn about his life without examining your own more thoroughly to see how you can be an enabler; how you can take the circumstances into which God has placed you and turn them into something that will glorify Him and impact others for good. I love how Evin says it in his chapter on “The Will to Live Well.”
“I’m now committed to help others understand that – ‘If You Can’t Adapt to the World You Live In, Then Don’t! Instead, just Create Your Own World in Which You can Live.’ Through my life’s experiences, I learned to create a Disabled World, where I am Able to help it!”
Read this book and tell others about it. You, too, can help enable others to “be the storm, be the change, and just say ‘I will,’” to be able in a disabled world!
Dr. H.E.”Buddy” Payne, Jr, President - Florida College
Joy at birth
Love through all
Life is to live
Mom and Dad
Love and Discipline
Boundaries to explore
Love and play
Friends and caretakers
Boundaries to test
Introspection and curiosity
Confusion and uncertainty
Cheating it too
Waiting on death
God guides life
Friends at hand
Entitlement and expectations
Rude and brash
Independence at hand
Story to tell
Emotional and true
Joy at life
Love through all
“I HIGHLY recommend everyone read Evin Hartsell’s book, Abled in a Disabled World. It was the first book I had ever read about a person whom – through no fault of his own – was stricken with such a challenging “card” – Muscular Dystrophy – yet was able to explain his feelings to the reader as if we – the reader – were with him 24/7 – from his birth to his passing.
Growing up in the 50’s, every mother & father was deathly afraid that their child would contract polio – until Jonas Salk & Dr. Sabin came up with a vaccine…..it was hit and miss for ALL children. I remember seeing children, young adults, and adults with this terrible disease….including seeing stricken polio patients in Iron Lungs as they were called – just to keep them alive.
I often wondered what a person stricken with polio would say – or feel – about his/her situation – or lot in life.
Evin explains what it is like to be imprisoned in a body that does not work, yet the mind is perfect.
His candidness with the reader made the reader felt as if they were riding on his shoulder. There were so many parts that I particularly loved such as how he and his friends loved their camp experience – they were finally free from their parents for a short period of time & how his friend relished being together.
Evin’s book will make you fall in love with Evin – his humor, class, humility, love, graciousness, kindness – he lived a full life in many ways….my only regret is that I did not get to meet him – he and I would have had a great time together – God Bless Evin and his wonderful family!
Evin was truly a remarkable young man!
I met the Hartsell family thru Evin's father, Scott. Scott joined me as a Healthcare Executive on our team at a Florida based Hospital system. We always worked well together and shared many of the same philosophies about life. I always admired Scott's dedication to his family, friends, career and country.
When sharing stories about our families, Scott was so proud of his wife and sons and their commitment to each other. Having the added challenges of being a military family with numerous relocations and deployments, the love, compassion and strength of the entire family is remarkable as they supported the special needs of Evin. Evin’s mother, Melisa is a remarkable individual who constantly displayed more strength than most.
I recall the first time I met Evin. It was at a hospital function when his father was being recognized for receiving his first star as a General. Evin was beaming with pride and displayed his beautiful smile the entire time. I spoke with Evin about his current studies and what his aspirations were. I can recall being very impressed how determined and persistent he was as well as focused on his goals, not his challenges.
Most do not understand what individuals with special challenges face on a daily basis. As a mother of a child with a profound hearing loss who utilizes different communication modes such as sign language, I also saw her struggle with being accepted and recognized for her attributes and talents. Too many do not look beyond the special needs to truly see the individual. Evin had so much more to deal with due to his physical limitations and he did not let that stop him.
Evin was a special individual and had an amazing story to share. It is a powerful story of his strength and resolve to make a difference not only in his life but in the lives of so many others. In reading Evin's story, it brings out so many emotions and shows how much we take for granted. Evin received support from so many, but it was his strong will, determination and perseverance to have had so many achievements and live his life within the trials of muscular dystrophy.
It is truly an inspirational and powerful story. We are blessed to be able to know Evin's story thru his book and know that readers lives will be forever touched.
Be the Change, Say I Will!
Evin's story touched me in a very unique way. I was blessed to have a father who spent his career working with the disabled community in early intervention services, so valuing life in all situations was an absolute in our household. However, with that said unless you truly walk with some who is disabled you don't get a full understanding of their struggle. That is what Evin's story did for me. As a Father now of my own children his struggles had me fighting back tears multiple times. But then there's the pervasive hope that Evin's story pours out. Hope to inspire us all to press on. Hope that demands not to be treated differently just because you have a disability. And ultimately the hope of eternity in Jesus Christ. I know for me, never having the opportunity to meet Evin, I look forward to walking with him on the Streets of Gold. Until then...