Children Are A Gift: Ricky Evans - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Children Are A Gift: Ricky Evans

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(KYTX) – Walking through one of his salvage yards in Longview, Ricky Evans looks around at all the cars and trucks that don't run any more.  He knows first-hand what it takes to restore something that's broken down. "I was making bad choices at a young age."
Those bad choices landed him at the Azleway Boys' Ranch in Tyler in 1981. "Rickey was sent here by the Texas Youth Commission for a crime he didn't commit. It's true! He'll tell you that over and over again. He took the blame, as a juvenile, for something someone else did so they wouldn't have to go to prison," explained Bill Partridge, Founder of the Azleway Boys' Ranch.

At the time, Azleway took in children from all over the state for various reasons.  Today, they only accept foster children in the state's care.

Back then, at just 14-years-old, Evans was headed down the wrong road. "I didn't have bad parents. I had a good mother," said Evans.

But he needed some guidance to get back on the right track.  "I think that's one of the things that it does for all the kids that come here.  It helps them work through if you make a choice there is a consequence or there is a reward," explained Partridge.
 
Evans said, "I look back on Azleway and what they did for me as a kid and that's why I'm here today."

This 48-year-old Longview resident is now a successful businessman owning five businesses -  two salvage yards, a collision repair business, a towing company and rental properties.
 
"I wanted things out of life.  Nobody ever gave me anything and nobody ever owed me anything. I knew I had to work for what I got," said Evans.
 
Partridge added, "Ricky is one of those unusual guys who has a lot of drive.  He is an entrepreneur.  Everything he touches seems to turn out well."

And if it weren't for Azleway, Evans knows his life could have been much different. "I know what they did for me when I was there."

Partridge said, "Rickey tells you again and again that his friends in Longview that he left, a lot of them are in prison and a lot of them are dead."

Evans eventually returned home, a changed person.  He would marry Lynn, his sole mate.  She's been his wife for almost 30 years now.  They have two children and five grandchildren.
"When my kids were growing up we actually took them to Azleway and got them involved in it." said Evans.

Evans continues to be a big supporter of Azleway - serving on the Board of Directors for  six years, attending fundraisers and helping former Azleway foster children find jobs and vehicles to drive.

"Giving is a big deal to me," Rickey said. "I don't care if it's money or my time and I do that because I know what it takes to raise those kids over there."

Patridge said, "He has a big heart. He will help anyone!"

A heart changed forever thanks to the Azelway Boys' Ranch. "One thing about Azleway, it's not just a home, they gave me an opportunity!"

Today, Rickey Evans is living proof of how change can happen from the inside out.  Pointing to one of the cars he's brought back to life from his salvage yard he said, "This car right here is an example of Azleway. It might not look like this coming in, but this is what it looks like going out."

Restoration is not just something that happens to a beat-up truck, but what happens to the lives of the children who experience Azelway.  Lives like Rickey Evans.
 
To learn more about Rickey Evans story or Azleway Boys' Ranch, join Gillian Sheridan for her "Children are a Gift" report, Tuesday night on CBS 19 Ten @ 10. You can also find information on www.CBS19.tv and www.azleway.org.  Also, to inquire about an East Texas child waiting to be adopted call 903-533-4109.

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