“Fight your battles for integrity, not ego.”
Evan Ritter loved adventure. From snowboarding, canoeing, and hiking with his family in the Colorado mountains, to ziplining, snorkeling, and horseback riding on family trips to Mexico, he enjoyed being outdoors with those he loved.
Outdoors and on the move—dirt biking, four-wheeling, and exploring in a Jeep or on a moped were favorite activities. One thing he still wanted to do was drive down the Paciﬁc Coast Highway in California.
Evan’s love of the outdoors transferred into his work. He joined his dad’s tree service business and was on his way to becoming a certiﬁed arborist, with the intention of taking the business over one day. Evan was persuasive in business dealings, knowing just what to say. He was creative and helped his dad with advertising and marketing materials to help make the business more successful. His family saw a bright future ahead for a young man with a strong sense of who he was and what he believed.
Evan’s creativity extended to the kitchen, where he was known for making the best quesadillas and breakfast scramble. He was also passionate about art and writing rap music, which he shared in journal entries that his mother now cherishes. In those same journals, Evan wrote about his dreams to meet a special woman, get married, and have a family with three children.
He was a protective older brother to his sister, Tori, making sure to share what he knew about friends and boys she was with, wanting her to learn from his mistakes.
Evan had many close friends throughout his life, but his friendship with Noah was the longest. From sandboxes to the football ﬁeld, they grew up together. Evan even introduced Noah to the woman he eventually married, and would have likely been Noah’s best man.
Evan’s family described him as kind and charismatic, spiritual and trustworthy, hardworking, and loyal to his family and friends. He volunteered at charity events and was ﬁrst to respond when someone needed help. Addiction changed Evan and his family’s lives forever.
“Evan’s presence was felt by all who knew and loved him,” his mother, Tracey, shared. “Addiction got in the way of him living out his dreams and becoming the man he knew he could be. His disease made him less conﬁdent and inhibited his ability to do adventurous activities he would have done in his twenties.”
Evan completed a 90-day inpatient treatment program that gave him a glimpse of his potential away from substance use. Looking back, Tracey sees the skills, education and support that would have beneﬁted her family as they tried to help him. She now works with an Affected Families and Friends group through the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention, and as a family support specialist for Advocates for Recovery Colorado. She hopes that sharing Evan’s story will help other families struggling with a loved one’s addiction.
When asked what she missed most about her son, Tracey said, “Everything. I miss the little things like his hug, his whistle, voice, beautiful brown eyes, the way he says, ‘Mom;’ his walk, his laugh, humor and overall presence in our lives. I have never found anyone who can give me an ‘Evan hug.’ I miss him wrapping his arms around me and making me feel safe and secure.”
“Evan is the missing link that has always bonded our family together. He was so much more than his addiction.”
Evan’s mother, Tracey Ritter, provided the information for this narrative.
April 13, 1993 – October 21, 2018-Age 25
Portrait Artist: Jeremy Hebbel
Narrative Writer: Lynne Mixson