A Compassionate Leader At Only 16

By Eva Piper

We need to teach our children empathy and care and love and communication and social responsibilities in preparation for adulthood” – Maya Soetoro-Ng

Have you ever been to a fundraising event organized by kids FOR kids? I have, and what I experienced is amazement, joy, tears of happiness and even more amazement!

Harris Gagnon,  a 16-year-old sophomore from South Charlotte , a friend to Dream On 3, and the Dream On 3  2017 Volunteer of the Year, spearheaded an event for other children. He organized a basketball tournament fundraiser in honor of Dream On 3 that benefited our Dream Kids. Because of his efforts over the last years, both Dream Kid Tylih and Dream Kid Griffin were able to experience their ultimate sports dreams and this year he will make more dreams come true!

For three consecutive years, Harris has mobilized a team of volunteers, secured a venue to host his event, found multiple businesses as both monetary and in-kind sponsors and above all, he has SOLD OUT his event  every single year.  Yes, these are  the efforts of a 16-year old boy.

The Dream Ball was first introduced to our organization in 2016 when Harris was just 12 years old. He reached out to Dream On 3, inspired by the mission of the organization and in the first year, the event raised a little over $1,000. The following year, the event doubled the funds, raising a total of $2,000. This past Saturday, DO3 kids were honored to be the recipients of a $5,000 gift all courtesy of the Dream Ball.

This year, Harris’ Dream Ball will support Dream Kid Sam, an 8-year-old living with epilepsy.  Sam was invited to attend the Dream Ball event, so that Harris could reveal the big surprise! From one kid to another, Harris shared the special news with Sam in front of 60 other event participants and their parents. Sam’s Dream of spending time with the Boston Celtics will  come true thanks to each participant that registered for the Dream Ball and every sponsor that supported the event!

Of the many charity events I have witnessed, this was one of the most well organized and impactful occasions. Despite the fact that 16-year-old Harris is shy and would prefer to avoid the spot light, he took charge and ran things with the precision of a seasoned event planner.  This young man inspired his peers and his family to give up their last Saturday in the summer to stand by his side and run registration, raffles and clinics. Kids who’ve never met before, kids of all different physical abilities, ages and race laughed, played and supported someone they didn’t even know, just to make his dream a reality .  Under Harris’ leadership, each kid there learned the valuable and unforgettable lesson of empathy, love and social responsibility.

It is a blessing to be able to have witnessed and been a part of the Dream Ball. Harris continues to inspire and make others  feel good knowing that the next generation has what it takes to create a future with compassionate leaders. Thank you, Harris, you are truly amazing!

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