TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Mike Evans’ favorite superhero is Batman. If he could have any superpower, he would like to be able to fly. He prefers seafood over steak; admitting shrimp, crab legs, and lobster tails are his weaknesses.
Honestly, I did not think Mike Evans had any weaknesses but, thanks to Landen Sapien, I will always remember his likely fondness for shrimp scampi.
“Mike was so approachable and down to earth,” said Landen’s mother, Amy. “And I think one of his children is Landen’s age so he was really able to talk to him on his level.”
Yes, Mike Evans, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers star wide receiver, hopped on a Zoom meeting with Landen Sapien, an 8-year-old boy who is battling cancer.
“Landen is hard to impress,” admitted Amy. “So to see him slightly starstruck was a neat experience.”
Landen was diagnosed with T-cell leukemia in June of 2019.
“When he was diagnosed in June, we went into hibernation,” said Amy. She currently lives in Tampa with her husband and their two sons, Landen and Corben.
Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer eight months after Landen’s diagnosis but, despite her challenges, she has not stopped fighting for her son.
“I am a 20-year social worker,” she said. “So I have been doing a lot of advocacy related to childhood cancer and breast cancer. I have made it pretty clear that anything that we can do for the community we will including lending our likeness to be people that people can associate with and put their hands on and identify with as real people.”
The Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation’s 50 Faces of Cancer FUNdraiser brought Landen and Mike together in a Zoom meeting.
Landen had the opportunity to interview Mike before the two of them played video games for the next two hours, which Evans initiated.
“I was impressed and a little shocked,” said Amy. “I did not expect them to play as long. I was sitting here at my desk and I have a baby monitor so I could hear them over the baby monitor playing in the other room and they were just talking like old friends. ‘Let’s go over here and blow this up!’ and ‘Watch out for that!’ They sounded like they had known each other forever.”
Landen told me the two of them have similar skills when it comes to playing Fortnite, which is one of Landen’s favorite video games.
“I thought it was really cool,” he said.
“It was a nice spotlight, being able to do something for the community,” said Amy. “And then, something exciting for Landon, who does not always get those types of opportunities to interact, and, certainly, he has never met anyone famous before so it was really neat.”
She mentioned Landen cheering for Mike as he played in Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.
“He was like, ‘There he is!’ so watching the Super Bowl and having him in there and having a personal association with him was really exceptional,” recalled Amy.
Mike Evans is a Super Bowl champion but more importantly, he is a man who cares about the children in this community.
“When it’s turn on a camera and you have a kid with leukemia in front of you that you are expected to interact with and you’re personable and approachable and really cool, you know, you cannot fake that,” said Amy. “That amount of being genuine is not something that is able to be practiced or forced so, you know, I think it is awesome for him to be associated with the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation.”
The full interview will air online for the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation’s 50 Faces of Cancer FUNdraiser on Thursday, March 11. You can reserve your spot to watch the entire video event here. The funds raised will go toward cancer research.