Kids! of the Month
Amazing Kids! is proud to highlight the Amazing Kids! of the Month!
month, we showcase kids who are accomplishing amazing
things. We hope that by telling their special stories, we will inspire
other kids to accomplish their own amazing achievements.
Kid! of the Month for November, 2008:
“Because I know what it’s like, I would tell kids who may have experienced discrimination that they shouldn’t focus on what other people say. Most of the time, people say rude things out of ignorance or without thinking.
Evan Ducker, Age 14,
Our November 2008 Amazing Kid! of the Month:
Although one in ten babies are born with some type of birthmark, most people do not know much about birthmarks. As a result, people who have noticeable birthmarks are sadly often the brunt of cruel and unthinking remarks and treatment by others.
He wanted to do something to change that, not only for himself, but to help others like him who have faced similar cruel treatment. As a result, he has made it his mission to create awareness and educate others about birthmarks. Along with his amazing and supportive mom, he wrote a children’s book called Buddy Booby's Birthmark to help children affected by birthmarks.
Don't forget: If you, or a young person
(or persons!) you know, has an
amazing project you are involved in, or a special skill,
ability you want to tell the world about, be sure to let Amazing Kids!
know about it! Simply complete our
Amazing Kids! of the Month award online
form, visit our AKOM nomination information page
Table of Contents
Have you ever been treated differently by others just because you were not like them? Or have you ever met someone who looked different and you didn't know how to react?
If you answered "yes," then this story is for you.
14-year-old Evan Ducker of Kingston, New York, was born with a birthmark on his face called a port-wine stain birthmark. Even though birthmarks are common, people are often ignorant about them. Some people thought that Evan's rash was a bruise from a fight, while others didn’t want their kids to play with him because they thought the birthmark was poison ivy or a contagious rash.
“They were always coming up to me and asking, 'What happened to your face?' Sometimes people would be pretty rude. They didn’t think about how their comments might affect me or my family,” Evan says.
Evan was frustrated with all the fear, ignorance, and misconceptions that existed about birthmarks. He wanted to change that.
With the help of his mother, Evan decided to create a children’s book featuring a young bird with a birthmark, a red-footed booby, as his main character who experiences discrimination and cruel remarks much the same way Evan and others with birthmarks have throughout their lives.
Inspired both by his real-life experiences and his love of animals, the book is titled Buddy Booby’s Birthmark. “I wanted my story to teach kids about endangered species, which are one of my passions -- and also about what it’s like to live with a birthmark.” And as it turned out, other kids with birthmarks were looking for a book they could relate to too!
Evan's main character in his book, Buddy, is a Red-Footed Booby bird from the Galapagos Islands. Interestingly, these real-life birds have red feet because of a vascular condition, similar to a human birthmark -- so they are the closest animal representatives to humans with birthmarks. But instead of having the red vascular marks on his feet as most Red-Footed Booby birds, Buddy's birthmark is on his face. You can learn many more facts about Red-Footed Booby birds and some of the endangered animals of the Galapagos, a subject close to Evan's heart, in Evan book.
Evan sent a copy of his story to Hannah Storm, a TV journalist and ESPN anchor, who has a facial port-wine stain like him. She liked it so much, she wrote the foreword for the final book. She also interviewed Evan for a segment on the CBS Early Show. That segment led to more interviews for newspapers and TV stations, including CNN.
Hannah Storm first revealed the fact that she had a port-wine stain under her left eye on a 2004 segment when she was a co-host on the CBS Early show. You can read more about the serious physiologicial affects which port-wine stains can have on people who have them in an article featured in USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/spotlighthealth/2004-03-16-storm_x.htm
Doctors from as far away as Australia, Germany, England, Canada, and Singapore started buying copies of Evan's book for their patients and recommending it to children’s hospitals and counselors. Teachers across the world used the book to teach their students about tolerance.
“A lot of publishers rejected my book and said nobody would be interested in a character with a birthmark. But I didn’t want to give up,” says Evan. “Now I have thousands of letters from people all over the world, thanking me for not giving up and saying my story made a difference in their kid’s life. That’s a really great feeling,” Evan adds.
The response to Evan's book inspired the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation (VBF) to launch the first-ever global reading initiative for birthmark awareness and tolerance in schools. The “International Buddy Booby’s Birthmark Read-Along for Tolerance and Awareness” is now scheduled annually on May 15th. This year, thousands of children from nearly 100 schools in 8 countries (including Australia, Germany, Ireland, Great Britain, Canada, Panama, Malta, and the U.S.) simultaneously read and discussed Buddy Booby’s Birthmark. The VBF also named the book’s main character-- Buddy, the red-footed booby bird-- as their official global mascot for birthmark awareness.
You can sign your school up to participate in the 2009 International Read-Along for Tolerance and Awareness at: www.buddyboobysbirthmark.com.
“I started getting invitations to speak at medical conferences and schools to share my story and my experiences. Over the last year or so, I’ve spoken to thousands of kids in public and private schools all over New York State. I‘m surprised at how many kids think a birthmark is 'cancerous' or 'contagious,'” he remarks.
Amazing Evan was invited to a national birthmark conference (attended by vascular surgeons and physicians all over the country and families coping with birthmarks) in Boston, Massachussetts, where he made a presentation, and was asked to do a reading of his book and a signing for doctors all over the U.S.
He has been invited to attend another conference this month in Manhattan as well, where he will be presenting his very first donation check (from sales of his book) to the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation (VBF). Way to go, Evan! He had previously been scheduled for a surgery this month, but Evan’s family postponed his surgery until December so he could attend this very important event.
There are a lot of different types of birthmarks and they affect people from every religion, race, and nationality. Some of the birthmarks like Evan's don’t ever fade or disappear. But because his birthmark can affect his eyesight, he has to get laser surgeries a few times a year. The surgery is expensive and Evan has to travel far away from his house to get to the hospital.
Evan understands that millions of other families struggle to get treatments and to find the right doctors who specialize in vascular birthmarks. To help them, he decided to donate a portion of his book’s proceeds to the international Vascular Birthmarks Foundation (VBF).
“My dream is to raise $100,000 for both the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation and endangered species through proceeds from Buddy Booby’s Birthmark book sales and a series of Ty Beanie Babies or other similar plush toys (based on the Galapagos Island characters featured in the book.),” Evan explains.
Evan hopes that, one day, every school library in the world will have Buddy Booby’s Birthmark available to children - so birthmarks won‘t continue being surrounded by superstitions and negative stigmas. Evan has received many requests to have his book translated into other languages (including Spanish, German, French, Japanese, Chinese and even Danish) and he wishes that one day an international publisher will help him do that.
“I also dream of my annual International Read-Along for Tolerance and Awareness growing by tens of thousands of schools all over the world; with scholarships and awards to schools and individuals showing exemplary tolerance initiatives. I dream of ‘Buddy the red-footed booby bird’ becoming a universal symbol of tolerance for children everywhere,” he adds.
He considers his family- his mom, dad and grandma- to be his biggest mentors for their unwavering support. Another of his most influential role models is the late Steve Irwin for instilling a love of animals in him. Evan also really admires Hannah Storm:
“She never let her birthmark prevent her from becoming a TV personality. And she believed in my story and my message, even before she met me or knew how the final book would turn out,” he explains.
When asked what message he would like to share with others, especially those children who have faced discrimination or intolerance in their lives:
“I would tell kids who may have been discriminated against to focus on your good qualities and all the things you have to offer others---like how smart or athletic or creative or funny you are. No one can take away your talents or the things you are really good at. Be proud of yourself and be who you are. If some people still aren‘t nice, just don‘t be friends with them. You can’t be friends with everybody, but you can still make a lot of good friends who have the same interests and like you for who you are.
" If you’re a good person with a lot to offer, most people will see that and want to be around you. The ones who won’t even give you a chance are really missing out,” he says.
Questions about birthmarks or about Buddy Booby's Birthmark book? Email Evan at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch Hannah Storm’s interview with Evan and her report on birthmarks: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=2324987n
Watch Evan’s appearance on CNN: http://edition.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/conditions/04/02/hm.birthmarks/index.html
Learn more about Vascular Birthmarks Foundation by visiting their website at: www.birthmark.org.
Know anyone with a birthmark or a scar, (or anyone else for that matter!), who could use some encouragement? Visit this wonderful, uplifting website, www.LoveYourMark.com, founded by a lovely lady named Beverley Sky in England, a life coach and mentor who has a facial birthmark. Be sure to check out her "Tips" in her Resources page on being different and happy!
Read an informative article about port-wine stains on the USA Today website: http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/spotlighthealth/2004-03-16-storm_x.htm
It's no secret...every person has an "amazing-ness" inside of them, just waiting to be discovered. (Sometimes we just need a little help in finding out what that "amazing-ness" is!)
If you are doing some amazing things too, we want to hear about it! Send us your stories about your amazing accomplishments, so we can tell the world just how amazing you are! We are always looking for new stories. And don't be shy! We'd love to hear from you!
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If you know someone who needs a little encouragement, why not tell them what you think is special about them? Maybe you can be the one to help them uncover their own special talent.Amazing Kids! is looking for teens to be Amazing Teen Volunteers and Ambassadors. If you'd like to join Amazing Kids! in helping to spread the word, please email us at: email@example.com
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