Local 8-year-old Takes the Trip of a Lifetime to Cheer on Therapist



Xavier Harris, a second-grader at Brunson Elementary School in Winston-Salem, NC, has some challenges, like many of us in life. At the age of 22 months, Xavier became part of Evan and Kim Powell’s family, as he was beginning to show signs of developmental issues; he was evaluated to see if speech therapy would be beneficial. He soon began therapy with Robert Evans, Speech Pathologist in Winston-Salem. A few months later, at the age of 2, Xavier was diagnosed with autism. “Xavier would scream if most people even looked at him, and his sensory issues were off the charts. Robert was so calm and patient with Xavier; they had a connection. In the beginning, there were many hard sessions; eventually, with time, Robert changed Xavier’s life and believed in him and pushed him and us as a family. Robert was the first of many therapists that Xavier would have over a period of five years, and we are extremely grateful for Robert. We love him immensely and being able to share in this special experience with him meant so much to us,” said Kim. You see, Robert Evans was chosen to be a contestant on Deal or No Deal and Xavier, along with his family, traveled to Universal Studios in Orlando, FL to surprise Robert during the show’s taping.

When the producers of Deal or No Deal contacted Kim last summer, she initially thought Xavier would be part of a videotaped message to Robert that would be shown during the taping. But as the time for Robert’s appearance got closer, the producers decided to fly Xavier and his family to Universal Studios in Orlando to surprise Robert in person on the show.

“We told Xavier that he was going to be on the show and he was excited. He really wanted to surprise Robert. Every day he would ask when he was going; Xavier was excited to fly and stay in the Universal Studios resort. Plus, he was happy to share the experience with his big brother, Parker. Xavier, Parker, and I went to Florida for the taping. Because it was going to be a quick trip, my husband stayed home to babysit our daughter, Arielle,” Kim commented.

Xavier had a great time hanging out at the resort with his family, but his only complaint was that the trip wasn’t long enough to visit Universal Studios Theme Park. “Xavier summed up the trip as ‘a dream come true.’ He has told everyone he comes in contact with about being on the show and he had family and friends all over the country watching it. We have received so many phone calls, messages, and comments on how far Xavier has come and how well he did on the show, and it all started with Robert, his speech therapist,” stated Kim.

Sometimes we can go a lifetime and never know the lives of those we have made a difference in, but Robert Evans is well aware of the little boy he helped and of the changes in Xavier’s life and the life of his family. If, by chance, Robert had any doubt of how he helped one special little boy, all he had to do was look over and see Xavier and his family cheering him on as he won $185,000 on Deal or No Deal. Xavier was Robert’s lucky charm for sure!


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