National News

Local athlete beats odds to land softball scholarship

Posted August 28

— A Belleville, IL athlete is inspiring others who could follow in her footsteps.

The athlete told News 4 she was born with a clubfoot and put up for adoption in China as a child, she is now heading to a Missouri college on a softball scholarship.

Determination and a doctor's skill set are two of the pieces that helped Belleville Township High School West graduate Kiri Evans reach the next level of softball.

"I've had to change a lot of things you would normally do for softball. They usually teach you how to hit a certain way or do things certain ways but I've had to change my hitting stance," said Kiri.

The adjustments worked and now she is headed to Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO to play softball. Her story started thousands of miles away in China.

By the late 1980's and early 90s, Chuck Evans and his wife Marti already had two children.

"They came into a very blessed situation and she (Marti) began to think they didn't fully appreciate that," said Chuck Evans.

The Belleville, IL family started the adoption process.

"The biggest thing that surprised me was how long it took," said Evans.

Now, years later, another surprise. The daughter they brought home with a clubfoot is a college athlete.

"We had no idea she would have an interest and passion and skill in an athletic field but she is one tenacious little girl. She never gives up and never stops," said Evan.

That was paired with a St. Louis doctor's world renowned expertise to keep Kiri in the game.

"We use a minimally invasive approach to try and treat clubfoot," said Dr. Matthew Dobbs, a Washington University orthopedic surgeon specializing in pediatric spine and foot deformities at St. Louis Children's Hospital.

In the most simple terms, the approach goes back to the basics, yet the medical community was at first reluctant to the shift.

However, once word spread among parents with the help of the internet in the early 2000s, St. Louis Children's Hospital experienced a steady and significant growth in its clubfoot clinic in the past 15 years.

"It's a medical change that happened in our lifetime and that's pretty phenomenal," said Dr. Dobbs. He adds the method could make adoptive parents more open to bringing home a child with clubfoo

"It changes the conversation and changes the future for these children," said Dr. Dobbs

Kiri agrees. "I just want people who can't have kids to know adoption is an option," said Kiri.

Kiri Evans is just one example of how successful the treatment can be.

"I love sharing stories like Kiri's with other families because when they come in here, they are scared and they can't really envision what their child is going to be able to do," said Dr. Dobbs. "There are no limitations. We have children that are playing high level sports. We have marathon runners, gymnasts."

Kiri's parents say they couldn't be more proud.

"This has worked out far beyond what anyone's reasonable expectations could have been," said Evans.

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