Makaili "Mak" Evans was a charismatic 13 year-old, full of energy and life. There wasn't a day that would go by that he didn't set out to make those around him smile. Mak's contagious laughter and personality allowed him to easily make new friends and preserve the many friendships he already had. Mak had the qualitites of a leader. He was compassionate, kind, empathetic, courageous, respectful, grateful, humble, and he had integrity. Mak knew what was right and always strove to do the right thing. His huge heart gave him the ability to offer his friendship and love so freely. Mak had an exceptional ability to make everyone feel important. Mak was also like most 13 year-old boys. He enjoyed watching movies, listening to music, playing video games, riding his bike to meet up with friends, playing sports, eating and trying new foods, and most of all, he was a prankster. Mak had a true gift of making others laugh. There were no bad days when Mak was around. He could make life's troubles seem so small and magnify the things in life that are truly important. Mak knew true happiness and the value of love and friendship.
On the tragic day of November 5, 2021, Mak's family's and friend's lives were forever changed, and their hearts were truly broken. The day started like most. Mak woke up, ate the breakfast his mom, Janelle, prepared for him, and he got ready for school. On his way out the door, he look at his mom and flashed a big smile and said, "Don't I look drip today? My outfit is fresh!". In Mak's words, that meant cool. Janelle smiled back at him and said, "You always look cool.". They talked briefly about what he needed to do after school, Janelle gave him a hug and they exchanged, "I love yous", just as they did every time they left each other. Mak then put his backpack over his shoulders and headed off to school to retake a test before the school day started. Seven minutes after they said their goodbyes the school called frantically telling Janelle to get to McCormick. Her son, Mak, had been hit by a distracted driver as he was doing what kids do every day, walking across the crosswalk going to school. Mak did everything his mother taught him to do. He stayed on the sidewalk until all the cars had stopped, and he used the designated crosswalk to cross the street. Mak did everything right, and sadly, it wasn't enough. This sweet loved son and friend died later that morning.
In honor of Mak's beautiful life and the gifts he shared with all he met, he inspired his mom to start the FORMAK nonprofit that hosts annual 5K run/walks. The goal of FORMAK is to raise money to assist the City of Cheyenne and Laramie County School District #1 in updating the Wyoming Safe Route to School Program plan. The plan will conduct city wide pedestrian school route safety audits which include both the street crossings and paths, enhance school and public education, and construct warranted safety upgrades and improvements. Doing this will take major funding. Just to install a pedestrian activated rapid flashers cost on average $30,000 per crosswalk. Overhead High Intensity Activated Crosswalk signals, like the one installed on Yellowstone Road near Davis elementary school, costs on average $150,000.
We are grateful for the participation and support of our inaugural #FORMAK run/walk. It was a huge success and the largest local non-profit 5K in Wyoming history!
The goal of FORMAK is to raise money to assist the City of Cheyenne and Laramie County School District #1 in updating the Wyoming Safe Route to School Program plan. The plan will conduct city wide pedestrian school route safety audits which include both the street crossings and paths, enhance school and public education, and construct warranted safety upgrades and improvements.
To continue honoring the memory of Mak. FORMAK’s intention is to raise funds to assist with more crosswalk safety improvements, to stay involved in the process to make sure the work is moving forward, and above all else, to make sure our school crosswalks are safe and to promote education and awareness for both pedestrians and drivers on the importance of safety in school zones.
Kathryn Grill Hoeppel