RANTOUL — Evan Bock, a student at Rantoul Township High School, was a delegate to the Congress of Future Medical Leaders in Lowell, Mass., this summer.
The Congress is an honors-only program for high school students who want to become physicians or go into medical research fields. The event is held to honor, inspire, motivate and direct the top students in the country who aspire to be physicians or medical scientists, to stay true to their dream and, after the event, to provide a path, plan and resources to help them reach their goal.
Bock has a genetic bone disease called XLH and has spent much of his life visiting and staying at Shriner’s Hospital Children’s Hospital, St. Louis. He receives treatment there and is a speaker for hospital events.
Bock, son of Christopher and Amy Bock of Rantoul, is interested in pursuing a career in biomedical engineering or medical science. He is also interested in aeronautical engineering.
During the three-day Congress, Bock joined students from across the country. Among the speakers were Nobel laureates and National Medal of Science winners, who talked about leading medical research. Ivy League and top medical school deans gave advice on what to expect in medical school.
Patients who are medical miracles also spoke.
He has also been able to witness a life surgery and met the first recipient of a full face transplant and a bionic eye.
Bock said he was born with the bone disease from his grandmother’s side — a genetic mutation.
He said it has helped to inspire him to help others.
“I want to
help other kids’
“I want to help correct that and help other kids have life without that kind of road block,” Bock said.
“I would like to be able to go into the body and kind of isolate problems of people’s disease and hopefully cure it.”
Bock said the desire to do this work helps to drive him to excel in school.
The 17-year-old has a 5.023 grade point average and takes all honors and AP classes.
It isn’t all scholastics for Bock at school. He is also a member of the RTHS men’s choir and plays the French horn and mellophone in the marching band. Other activities include madrigals, scholastic bowl and Torch and Laurel (National Honor Society).
He is a varsity member of the RTHS golf team and a member of student council.
Bock said schools he is interested in attending for biomedical engineering are Duke, Purdue and the University of Illinois. If he opts to go into aeronautical engineering, he might attend Embry Riddle in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Bock’s mother, Amy, said XLH is a bone disease that causes the body not to absorb calcium, phosphorous and vitamin D. As a result, those with the disease are prone to stress fractures.
At the end of seventh grade, Evan, who was a student at St. John’s Lutheran School in Buckley, volunteered to try an experimental drug for people suffering from the disease. He was the first pediatric subject to try the drug at Shriner’s Hospital. It was a success. He grew 6 inches in three months. He now stands 5-1.
Before that, “he was unable to run,” Amy Bock said. “Walking was difficult for him. By the end of that year, he joined the track team at St. John’s. ...”
Bock still has side effects from the disease. He has pain and is predisposed to stress fractures.
“Some of the bony structures in his chest never grew properly,” she said. “We can’t go back and redo the damage that’s already been done, the lasting effects on his skeletal system,” Amy Bock said.
Bock’s sister, Darian, also has the disease and is in constant pain, Amy said. They have younger cousins who also have the disease.
“Her pain is excruciating,” she said, adding that she is happy for the breakthrough her brother has received. “Hopefully he’ll take care of his sister when she’s older and is not able to walk.”