11 year-old survivor sings National Anthem at races
By Nancy Whitney
“Oh say can you see,” echoed throughout the streets of Wylie during the opening ceremony for the annual Pedal Car Races held May 3.
It’s hard to believe, but the voice responsible for singing the national anthem came from music enthusiast Evan Niimi, an 11 year-old student from Caddo Mills Middle School.
His voice is not only beautiful, but there is strength and fortitude behind it as well.
The young singer was born at only 25 weeks to mom Wendy Niimi, weighing 1 pound 6 ounces. As a preemie he had his challenges, then at 17 months old, Evan was diagnosed with liver cancer.
By the time he was just 22 months, he had undergone a liver transplant.
“Having the transplant has really helped him grow into the caring person he is today,” Wendy said. “He cares about everyone and is understanding of all different kinds of kids.”
He recently had his 10-year checkup and learned he had even more to sing about. He was pronounced cancer free.
Due to his illness and following her son’s musical interest, Wendy decided to enroll him in singing classes at Ballard Street Music so he could continue building his talent.
He has been with the music company for nearly two years and continues to develop his skills.
“He came to me a timid little boy, but that didn’t keep him from doing something he loved,” Rob Hunter, Evan’s music instructor at Ballard Street Music, said. “He has grown into this wonderful and talented singer. I just love him and his family so much.”
Although his passion is music he hopes to become a police officer when he grows up.
“His progress has been wonderful and he has grown so much,” Hunter said. “He really enjoyed singing at the Pedal Car Races and loved having his picture taken with Mayor Eric Hogue.”
Evan will continue to work on his skill and has plans to participate this summer at a singing event at Ballard Street Café where five female singers will perform.
Evan lives with his mother and father, Kevin, and 10 year-old sister Mika.