There seem to be people who are determined to make life miserable for others: people who smoke at the entrance to a store, people who drive in the left lane on the interstate, people with 50 items in the 10-items-or-less lane.
But they pale in comparison to those who are determined to be a blessing.
During Harrison’s illness we’ve found that so many of our friends are determined to be a blessing. They have done more for him and our family than we could ask or imagine. They’ve donated money, made a golf cart available, purchased a high-end elliptical, cooked meals, taken our kids places, stopped by unexpected just to pray, organized fundraisers. The list goes on and on. They truly are dear friends.
Surprisingly, even complete strangers have stepped into Harrison’s life only to be a blessing to him. Peyton Manning took out of contract negotiations and rehabing his neck to call. Eli Manning autographed a football. Josh Hamilton has called and become a pen pal. Dozens of trading card enthusiasts sent cards, many of which were quite pricey. Many people have given on our WePay site.
Through friends, two strangers who have now become friends are major college baseball coaches: Elliot Avent of NC State and Tom Walter of Wake Forest University. Both of these men actually came to our home with gifts for Harrison. And while he has loved the hats, shirts, bats, and baseballs, he’s mostly just pleased to know these men. They would never tout their visit to Harrison, but that’s all the more reason to herald their selfishness.
Recently, these two teams played one another. It was amazing to look at two head baseball coaches and see them sporting Hope for Harrison bracelets. They aren’t reppin’ Harrison for the recognition, but a show of solidarity with a fellow baseball fanatic fighting for his life.
As head coaches of ACC baseball programs, they are pulled in a million directions. Each has to recruit new players, coach current players, stroke present and potential donors, deal with parents, make sure eighteen year-old kids go to class and do their homework, study film, deal with administrators, and do a thousand other things (and DON’T do a thousand other things). I can’t imagine their lives.
Each has made Harrison’s struggle his own. They didn’t have to do it. I’m not sure why they did it, but they have.
They have become a great blessing to my little boy.
Harrison has basically become a member of the NC State baseball team (at least he thinks he is). Coach Avent has somewhat adopted this little boy. It’s not just the big things like an invitation to practice or a game, it’s the little things like asking how his treatment went or introducing him to college baseball players.
Here’s what I’ve seen in Coach Avent: he gives what he can in the most sincere way to bless someone who can’t give him anything in return. What does Coach Avent have? Access. He has access to something Harrison adores: baseball. Coach Avent just helps Harrison “touch” baseball players, dugouts, dirt, bats. He has given what he has, baseball.
And he knows he’ll never get anything in return. It’s one thing to feel obliged to take a donor to a meal or host a recruit for a baseball game. He might get a gift or a new player in return. It’s part of his job; NC State pays him to “bless” those people. But Harrison can’t ever give anything to him. And Coach still blesses him.
I’m humbled by his sincerity. More importantly, I’m humbled by my own failure to bless others who could never bless me.
Coach Avent and Coach Walter are teaching my son more about life than baseball. And by their actions they are teaching their players lessons that will carry them through life, long after baseball for them is a fading memory. I could never thank them enough.