Evan Gentry is one nice kiddo. Shy at first, cuddling up to his mom Breanna Gentry, Evan soon warms up and gives his two cents on the conversation. Then, he’ll ask about what sports you might like and maybe even if you have a dog. He smiles and laughs and might just be the happiest kid ever.
Twelve-year-old Evan, of Montesano, recently was selected as the Hoquiam Police Department’s Chief for a Day. Chief for a Day is a statewide program with 32 agencies participating this year, each one selecting a local child facing life-threatening or chronic illnesses. The little chiefs and sheriffs enjoy special activities as part of their official duties.
For Evan, that means riding in the lead car at the Logger’s Playday Parade, touring the Hoquiam Police and Fire departments and taking a tug boat ride into Grays Harbor. Evan will wear his official police chief uniform, replete with an HPD badge and nametag.
He was sworn in as Chief for a Day at a recent Hoquiam City Council meeting by Mayor Jasmine Dickhoff and he promised to wear his uniform proudly and have a great time with his law enforcement friends, according to the HPD.
Hoquiam Police Chief Jeff Myers said his officers enjoy the Chief for a Day program because they get to see their law enforcement roles through the eyes of a kid.
“It’s a way to connect with a Harbor kid, and make a small difference. He represents all of us, and we’re proud of him,” Myers said.
According to Evan’s mother, Breanna Gentry, Evan has undergone many medical challenges in his young life. Born with a rare chromosomal defect, he has endured more than 12 surgeries, including a brain surgery when he was just an infant, and frequent extended hospital stays. He is blind in one eye and partially so in the other.
Additionally, he has diabetes insipidus caused by a missing pituitary gland. Without a pituitary gland, his body is unable to regulate fluids and he is dependent on medication to help regulate his fluid and sodium levels. Without constant monitoring, he could become dehydrated and suffer a seizure, said his mother.
But, he has come a long way, Gentry said. He still sees lots of doctors, mainly an endocrinologist, neurologist and his dentist and orthodontist, but only when necessary and he no longer has long hospital stays.
“As he’s getting older, it’s getting easier,” Gentry said.
And, in spite of Evan’s medical problems, he has an irrepressible spirit. His mom said she can count on her fingers the number of times he has cried, facing each medical treatment with a smile and a positive attitude.
Besides, Mom said, he isn’t one to sit around. He is busy with his many sports activities. He loves the Washington Huskies and has two signed footballs. He loves cars and dogs, and collects baseball hats. Evan is also the ultimate MHS Bulldog football fan, attending every home game to cheer on his brother.
Evan isn’t just a fan, he is an athlete, too, participating in just about every sport he can, including football.
“He has a medical problem,” Gentry said, “but he’s a boy.”
After his birthday on Sunday, Evan will attend a weeklong summer camp in Carnation at Camp Korey, where he plans on rock-climbing, fishing and riding horses. Later in the year, he may go hunting with Corey Daniels, of Hooks and Horns and the band Humptulips.
On Aug. 18, Evan and his family will visit the police academy in Burien, riding with a police escort, the HPD said in a press release. At the academy, Evan will participate in hands-on activities and view demonstrations by K-9 units, bicycle patrols, SWAT and rifle teams. He’ll get to sit in police vehicles including motorcycles and helicopters.
“It’s all the cool stuff,” said Chief Myers, and Evan said he was most looking forward to the police dogs.
In the fall, Evan will attend Montesano Junior High School as a seventh-grader, where he attends both general and special education classes. His favorite subject is math and like all kids — he also loves recess.
“He loves school,” said grandmother Shari VanBlaricom. “He loves being with his friends. He calls them his ‘peeps.’”
Evan’s family includes dad Bruce Englund, brothers Kyle, Bryce and Michael Englund, sister Taylor Gentry, and granddad Mike VanBlaricom.
In addition to being Hoquiam Police Chief for a Day, Evan is also chief of the family, said his mother. He is a snuggler and his siblings dote on him.
“We give him whatever he wants because he asks for so little,” VanBlaricom said.
The Hoquiam Police Department also is conducting a fundraiser for Evan and his family, including his siblings. Chief Myers said it is important for the siblings to be celebrated as well.
To contribute to the Chief for a Day effort by the HPD, funds may be made sent to the Hoquiam Police Officer’s Association. Just last week, an anonymous donor contributed gold coins and hundred dollar bills to the Chief for a Day, for a total of more than $6,000.
Myers said that sort of generosity is what makes Grays Harbor and the Chief for a Day program so special.
“Evan’s a great kid, and we want to make this special for him and his family, and this donation will help make that happen,” Myers said.