The children of Lee Evans, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and member of the famed “Speed City” runners from San Jose State, have started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to bring their father to the United States after he suffered a stroke last week and is unconscious in a Nigerian hospital.
According to daughter Menjanahary Evans physicians in Nigeria are unable to do much for Evans, 74, other than keep him comfortable. The campaign has a goal of $500,000,
Segun Odegbami, former Nigerian soccer great, said Tuesday Evans is breathing through a ventilator. Odegbami, a close friend of the Olympian, also said a neurologist is scheduled to examine Evans on Wednesday as doctors try to figure out why he has remained in a coma.
Son Solofo Evans said Sunday that the family is working with the U.S. embassy in Lagos, Nigeria, to secure clearance if Lee Evans can safely be transported.
“Medically, he is not in a good place,” Solofo Evans said.
Odegbami said Evans collapsed last week while having dinner with him and other friends. He said Evans has blood clots in his brain.
Evans is an assistant track coach at Odegbami’s International College and Sports Academy and has spent many years coaching African teams.
Menjanahary Evans said on the GoFundMe page that the family is unsure if Evans can be transported to the United States because of COVID-19 regulations. She also said Evans’ passport and other forms of documentation have been stolen.
“This is overwhelming for all of us and we just want him here to be with his family and friends,” Menjanahary Evans wrote.
“We want to get Lee the best care,” said Ron Freeman, a 1968 Olympic teammate, who also works in Africa.
Freeman said Odegbami made it possible for Evens to get treated in a hospital.
“Segun is a blessing to Lee’s family,” Freeman said.
Ron Davis, a San Jose State cross-country champion and the Spartans’ former track and field coach, also praised Odegbami’s efforts. Davis, who is coaching in Tanzania, said Odegbami has paid for all of Evans’ medical treatments and got the Olympian admitted to the best hospital in the area.
Evans, who graduated from San Jose’s Overfelt High School, was the first person to break 44 seconds in the 400 meters when he won the race at the Mexico City Olympics with a time of 43.86 seconds.
Evans also anchored the 1,600-relay team to a world record of 2 minutes 56.16 seconds. Both of the world records lasted for almost two decades. Evans, a member of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, wore a beret with his relay teammates during the medal ceremony in an ode to the Black Panther Party. The demonstration did not cause the same reaction as when fellow San Jose State runners Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised black-fisted gloves during the medal ceremony for the 200 meters.
In 2011, Evans had surgery to remove a large tumor in the pituitary gland area of his brain while visiting his sister in the Bay Area.
Evans began working for the United Nations in Africa after resigning as track and cross-country coach at the University of South Alabama in 2008.
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