'Evan loves getting dressed up—and he was especially excited that day. It was hard to get his makeup on straight because he was smiling so much.'
A little boy who was bullied for dressing up as Tony Stark for Halloween won hearts by proving that strength comes in all shapes and sizes. Young Evan was over the moon about his costume for a Halloween party at his Missouri school last year. "Evan loves getting dressed up — and he was especially excited that day," his mother, Jill Struckman, told TODAY Parents. "It was hard to get his makeup on straight because he was smiling so much." Once ready, the then-fifth grader was every bit as stylish as Robert Downey Jr. in the Marvel movies, sporting oversized glasses, a snazzy suit and a goatee.
"I hope his school is ready for this guy. He only answers to 'Tony' or. 'Mr. Stark.' He wanted [me] to drive him to school but only in the Mercedes. Since I couldn't drive him this very minute, Tony had to be a bus rider," Struckman wrote on Facebook, sharing photos of Evan channeling his inner "genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist." However, 20 minutes after she saw him off to school, Struckman received a call from the school office, informing her that her son had been teased on the school bus for his costume.
"They said, 'We have Evan here and he's really, really upset,'" she recalled. "My heart just dropped." After speaking to her upset son over the phone, Struckman realized it would be best if she picked him up from school. By the time she reached him, Evan had washed off his Tony Stark makeup and profusely apologized to his mom for it on the way home in the car. "He kept saying, 'we worked so hard on it,'" Struckman shared. "He was really thinking about how I would feel, which tells you a lot about him."
Recounting the events of the morning over frappuccinos with his mom, Evan revealed that some kids on the school bus had told him that he looked stupid and that everyone at school would make fun of him. The young boy, who had practically sprinted to the bus that morning, was left feeling embarrassed and defeated about his costume choice. Yet, when Struckman asked him if he wanted to go back to school for the Halloween party, Evan nodded.
"If you've seen my posts this morning you know what a roller coaster it has been... I have an update that I would like to share... After going to Starbucks and talking through his feelings, Evan decided he didn't want to miss his school party!!! So we went home redid his AWESOME makeup and matched right back into school! He ended up getting that ride he wanted after all," she wrote on Facebook, sharing photos of Evan's triumphant return to school in their Mercedes.
"He was a little scared walking back into school," Struckman recalled. "But he had a great rest of the day. And he was so proud of himself. It was absolutely a defining moment in his life. If he hadn't gone back, it would have broken his spirit." Since posting about how Evan rose above the unkindness he'd faced that day, the family has received an outpouring of support from strangers across the country in the form of messages, letters, cards, drawings, memes, comic books, etc.
"One lady handmade a beautiful card and on the card, she wrote 'you've inspired me. I am smiling while making this card, it makes me feel good to craft things for people. An 81-year-old man from GA says he never had kids but if he had he would've wanted them to be just like Evan! A 75-year-old granny wrote 'back when I was your age I got teased for wearing piggy tails, and so I stopped wearing them. I still think about that to this day! I sure wish I would've kept wearing them and had been brave like you," Struckman shared on Facebook. "All of these stories and pure love and kindness have touched me and my family in a way that is indescribable. This is humanity at its BEST!!!"