Michael & Russ Evans on the Rewards of Sports & Employment

By Emily Moore

Born in Petaluma California, Michael got involved with Special Olympics Southern California at the age of 5 when he was carried by a postal worker in what was then called the Post Office Torch Run (now the Law Enforcement Torch Run).  

Michael Evans is a 36-year-old Special Olympics Southern California athlete who competes in bocce, bowling, floor hockey and tennis.  

In Pomona Valley, Special Olympics has returned to in-person activities every Saturday after only being able to hold virtual meetings due to the COVID pandemic. For an hour each week, the athletes get the opportunity to participate in athletics and bocce. Michael, his fellow athletes, and their parents are so thankful to be back. Everyone has greatly missed the mental and physical stimulation as well as the opportunity to come together as a community that these weekly sessions provide. 

Michael’s father, Russell, who oversees the Special Olympics programs in Pomona Valley, said he believes the program has been a life-changing experience for Michael. He has seen improved socialization and confidence in his son. “If we didn’t have Special Olympics, I’m not sure how he would’ve turned out.” 

In addition to Special Olympics, Michael spends much of his time working at Walmart, where he has been employed for 21 years.

He originally got the job through the Oprah Winfrey Show’s Mother’s Day Special. Unbeknownst to their parents, Michael’s sister wrote in to the show about her brother and was successful at landing him in the top ten out of thousands of entries. He currently works in the garden section, watering plants, stocking shelves and also helping with customer service. He takes immense pride in his job and has received multiple awards for safety and for identifying issues within the store.

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