The Power of a Smile, Caleb Harrison

 



 

Lynn Haven, FL---Sometimes we takes the simple joys of life for granted. And it takes a pretty special person to remind us of what we have. 15 year old Caleb Harrison has ever right to show frustration or anger, but instead, chooses the opposite.

The power of a smile knows no bounds. It's infectious. A simple reflex, but a difficult impulse. Who could smile all the time?

"He's just always happy," says his mother Cathy Harrison. "He's full of joy. Doesn't matter what seemingly impossible thing he's trying."

"He just has a unique perspective and optimism," says his father, Rex Harrison.

His brother Jacob Harrison says, "He's just there on the sideline telling us to get back in it and play hard and have fun."

After what he's faced, you'd understand if Caleb Harrison wouldn't want to.

"I was 24 weeks pregnant at five and a half months," says Cathy. "He was real early. A pound and a half and my husband's wedding ring fit all the way up his arm, rested on his shoulder. "

"It was really tough, but early on Cathy and I had seperate episodes where we kinda fel like God said 'everything's gonna be ok.," said Rex.

A brain bleed at birth led to the long-term effects of cerebral palsy. After years of therapy just to learn how to walk and talk, it was sports, especially basketball, that's provided some of the best treatment. Caleb's played with Bay County Special Olympics for the past two years while serving as a Mosley Dolphin manager for the past four.

"I just love the game of basketball," says Caleb. "Special Olympics and Mosley are both my friends."

"He's at Mosley every day, he's our biggest fan to me," says assistant coach Mazen Hindawi.

"He is the life of the team," says head coach Chris Martello. "He's always slapping high fives, wanting to get the guys hyped up."

Jacob, a senior guard for the Dolphins, notices his brother's passion for the team. "He takes the losses harder than any of us and he enjoys the wins more than any of us."

While Mosley is his favorite team, it's the Dolphins' players that are Caleb's biggest fans.

"They came to a game," says Caleb, recapping when the team packed the stands at one of his Special Olympics games.

"We had a practice right before, and then me, Nat, Warren, Maz, Coach, all the guys, we just went over there to watch it. And he hit the first shot and everybody went crazy," says Jacob.

"It was really fun," says Caleb.

For two brothers, bonded since birth, inseparable ever since, experiencing the game they love together means everything.

"We've been best friends ever since he was born," says Jacob. "Growing up, we always played football in the front yard together or basketball on the little hoop. It's just fun to be able to share it together now."

"It's the atmosphere. I can't describe it, it's so cool," says Caleb.

For his parents, who've seen Caleb bring joy to both loved ones and strangers, even they can't explain the depths to which their son impacts others.

"Everybody has struggles," says Cathy. "Everybody has things that are difficult. Caleb's are just more visible and I don't know if that makes people relax, I don't know what it does."

"I think before you have children, you want your kids to be happy," says Rex. "And you want them to have a positive influence on the world around them. And I would never invision or imagine a kid like Caleb and him probably being the happiest of my three children, and probably having the most dramatic effect on his environment around him. And so what are we struggling with?"

Who could smile all the time? You'd understand if Caleb Harrison wouldn't want to. But he wouldn't.

At the end of the school year, Caleb will graduate from Mowat Middle School. He will continue to manage for not only the Dolphins basketball team, but also for the football team as an official Mosley student this fall.


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