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FOX Medical Team

Martial arts help boy with genetic defect

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ATLANTA -

The martial arts have helped thousands of youngsters grow up stronger.  For one 6-year old metro Atlanta boy, the journey began at the tender age of three.

As a newborn, Michael and Lisa Matesvac's third son, Evan, was wasn't lifting his head or moving like his brothers.

Doctors diagnosed Evan with Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare genetic defect. It meant Evan would grow up with weak muscle tone and almost no energy.

"It was a very grave diagnosis when we first got it," said Michael Matesvac.

Because kids with Prader Willi often crave food, raising their risk of becoming obese, Evan started physical therapy as a newborn in the neonatal intensive care unit at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

"The first thing I said, was, 'Will I be able to play with him?  Can I take him to the park with his brothers?'  And when I knew that, I said, 'OK, I that's fine. I can work with whatever it is we have to deal with,'" said Michael Matesvac.

And for six long years, Evan has been dealing with it.

"He does so much, and he barely complains," Lisa Matesvac said.

Evan juggles six different sports and therapies at once and school. Going to Karate Atlanta in Dacula is the fun part, his parents said.

"We've been here since a week after Evan turned 3.  Working hard. Trying to build that energy level, that coordination for him, that core body strength," Lisa Matesvac said.

When Evan joined the Tiny Tigers program he was so weak that he couldn't jump, or kick, but he kept coming and trying.

Evan became the first Tiny Tiger to earn a black belt.

It was a big moment for the 6-year old boy whose dad just wanted to him to be able to play.

"I'm not surprised, but I'm very excited, and I'm proud.  He's been working continuously for 6 and a half years of his life. He's been working since he was born," said Michael Matesvac.

Evan comes from a family of taekwondo black belts. His mom has one. Both of his big brothers have one and his dad is on the brink of earning his black belt.

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