Friday, October 9, 2015

Elton Meets Lucky Little Fan


It would be tempting to steal a line from the Elton John hit "Crocodile Rock" and say Evan Snow never knew a better time than Friday night and you guess he never will.


Evan, however, is only 10 years old and undoubtedly has countless good times ahead of him. But it is true that it will take something extraordinary to top the night he experienced Friday.

The Baltic Elementary School fourth-grader, who has Down syndrome, met his idol, the British pop star, who appeared in concert at the Denny Sanford Premier Centre.

Just before Elton John walked on the stage for the 2 1/2-hour show, he met with Evan and the boy's parents, Robin and Vickie Snow. He posed for photographs. He shook Evan's hand and kissed him on the forehead. He made a little boy happier than words can express.

"The meet-and-greet was more than you could imagine," Vickie Snow said. "I was expecting a quick one-handshake-one-second-photo."

Baltic teacher Kristin Voss and Evan had marked down the days before the Elton John concert on a desk calendar. She has known of Evan's love for Elton John since he walked into the school.

Every staff member at Baltic does, and they have used that to motivate Evan in multiple ways.

"His speech teacher made picture books on how to follow the rules in school," Snow said. "Elton keeps his hands to himself, Evan keeps his hands to himself. Elton keeps his shoes on, Evan keeps his shoes on. Elton reads books, Evan reads books."

When Evan does well in school, his instructors let him listen to Elton John songs. Many teachers have purchased and brought Elton John music to their classrooms just to motivate Evan, Snow said.

Such devotion should be rewarded. Last May, after the concert date was announced, Evan's classmates wrote letters asking Elton John to meet Evan. They posed for a group photo, displaying a banner that referenced another Elton John hit, "Don't go breakin' Evan's ♥."

On Friday, with the concert hours away, other students besieged Voss with questions: Was Evan going to meet Elton John?

It wasn't until after school dismissed for the day that she received an answer. Carmen Giles of the event center called to tell her what had been arranged.

"I'm friends with several parents on Facebook, and they were so excited to tell their children it was happening," Voss said. "On Monday, I think it's going to be crazy with everyone wanting to talk to Evan. They were just excited he was going to get to go to the concert. I think this will be a big deal."

Seats near the stage had opened up earlier in the week, and Voss and a friend, Tracy Petersen, had purchased those. They swapped seats with Evan and his parents, however, so the family could have a better view.

After the concert, Voss ran into strangers who sat near the Snows. They knew nothing of Evan's love for Elton John. They only knew they saw a boy having the best time ever.

"They teared up watching him dance and clapping," Voss said. "You should have seen his face after the concert. He was on cloud nine."

But wait, there's more. Elton John's band wasn't part of the meet-and-greet, but as they prepared to go on the stage, Evan began greeting them all by name.

"Evan said, 'Hi, Nigel Olsson, I'm Evan,' and Nigel came over and said, 'Well, hi, Evan,' " Voss said.

Band members also posed with him for photographs. Olsson, the drummer, had his picture taken with Evan and guitarist and vocalist Davey Johnstone gave him a guitar pick, Snow said.

In addition, a stranger near the merchandise counter heard Evan pleading with his mother for a CD. She asked him to wait until they could check with his father. The stranger purchased the CD and presented it to Evan.

"It was just a random act of kindness. We're listening to it this morning," Snow said Saturday.

Evan spent days thrilled by the thought of meeting Elton John; his parents spent days trying to get him to focus only on the concert. Good parents never mind being proven wrong.

"We thought it was a pipe dream," Snow said. "It was so awesome."

- Argus Leader

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