Life’s unfair. We all know that. Unfortunately for some, life gets unfair a lot earlier than it should.
Consider the case of Evan Podsiad, 13, a local kid currently residing in the Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles.
Until about a month ago, Evan led a fairly normal life. The middle of three brothers, he’s always had a love for music and has been playing in the Advanced High School Jazz Band since 6th grade. He was looking forward to attending the youth jazz camp this summer affiliated with Mammoth Lakes Jazz.
Evan plays the clarinet.
His mother Jill, an operating room/surgical technician at Mammoth Hospital, moved her boys to the Eastern Sierra about two years ago.
On May 15, Evan came home from school with some swelling in his feet and ankles. According to his mother, she gave him some Tylenol and sent him to bed. The next day, Evan went to school, came home, finished his homework — but the swelling hadn’t receded. In fact, it had crept up to just below his knees. So Mom took him to the hospital, and the blood work and chest x-rays indicated that Evan’s heart was enlarged.
The next day, mother and son drove to Renown Hospital in Reno, where the result of an eco-cardiogram ultimately led to a Life Flight to Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles.
That is where Evan remains right now, hooked up to an EKG machine, a couple of drips running through him, awaiting a heart transplant.
Meanwhile, Mom and Evan’s brothers are holed up at the Ronald McDonald House in L.A. While Jill maintains a 5/10 (five days on in Mammoth/ten days off) schedule, Evan’s father Ryan, a San Diego-based Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, also participates in keeping watch over their son.
While Evan can take a couple of walks a day (with his EKG machine in tow), he is not allowed to leave his hospital floor.
Kama Newbry, a fellow nurse at Mammoth Hospital, also works part-time in Los Angeles. One day, when the Mammoth-L.A. Alaska Airlines flight got cancelled, she offered Jill a ride. In five hours of driving, well, things get said. Upon hearing about Evan, Kama and another Mammoth colleague, Rob Kocher, decided to help organize a fundraiser. And on short notice, Flossie and Ken Coulter, longtime producers of Mammoth Lakes Jazz, offered to help.
A July 13 fundraiser will be a separate yet connected (you don’t have to have a Jazz badge to buy a ticket for this event) show within a festival, with 100% of the proceeds going to Evan Podsiad.
As Jill attests, and what is legend about Mammoth, is that regardless of how dysfunctional this town may appear to the outsider, inside the lines, this town is gold. Already, she says, she has “hundreds” of tales of local generosity.
But as Kama Newbry also relates, Jill Podsiad is pretty special herself, the type of person “who’s been instrumental in forming unity within her department [at the hospital].”
If you’d like to donate an item for the fundraiser auction or raffle, please contact Chelsea Glende at 916.213.0690. For all other inquiries, contact Kama Newbry at 707.498.8023.