Sharletta Evans tragically lost her 3 year old son, Casson Xavier (Biscuit) Evans, on December 21, 1995 to gang violence. Casson was caught in the crossfire in a drive by shooting.  Before the children with the guns were even arrested, Sharletta found forgiveness in her heart for whoever pulled the trigger. And while she was ready to forgive within days of the tragedy, it took four years of grieving for her to realize that something good had to come out of her son’s death. In 2002, she began grassroots efforts with neighborhood kids in backyards and at local events to try to stop gang violence. The hard work she put in led to the establishment of the Recreation Centerin 2003.

Casson was a child born to this world with obstacles; his stressful delivery resulted in an emergency C-section, which over-extended his shoulders and damaged his arms. Additionally, he suffered from kidney failure. After a diagnosis of severe nerve damage, the family was told he would never perform normal activities. But this turned out to be wrong. His grandmother refused to accept his medical fate and helped Casson to an extraordinary childhood through physical therapy, persistence and prayer. Casson more than fully recovered and was an active toddler who largely spent his time with his family, especially his brother, cousins, aunts and uncles.

The passing of such a special child was deeply painful for the family, especially his mother. However, like Casson, Sharletta persevered, refusing to let her son’s death be in vain. Casson’s legacy will forever be the work of the Recreation Center, helping youth to choose to turn away from gang violence and to choose life instead. There should never be another death like Casson’s.