un·com·mon: adjective: out of the ordinary; unusual.
Meet Harris Gagnon, a 14-year old Jewish boy from Charlotte who will be Bar Mitzvahed in August. In preparation for this, Harris must show an understanding of and a commitment to the responsibilities of Jewish adulthood, such as giving back to the community.
Meet Tylih Bennett, a 14-year-old African American male also from Charlotte, who is living with autism. He is a loving and gentle giant standing at an impressive 6’1”. He has grown up overcoming challenges that most of us will never know and working hard to be accepted among his peers.
These two young men are from completely different backgrounds, they couldn’t look more different and their stories have very little in common. But it was obvious that none of that mattered when they shook hands for the first time on Saturday afternoon. Although complete strangers to one another, their love of the game and their pursuit of a common goal brought them together in one of the most inspiring displays of teamwork and community that I’ve ever had the opportunity to witness. The game was basketball and the common goal was a dream come true!
Tylih Bennet is our newest Dream Kid and his ultimate sports dream is “to meet his hero Drew Brees, Quarterback for the New Orleans Saints!” This past Saturday, Harris Gagnon organized a community-wide basketball tournament to help make Tylih’s Dream come true. The tournament included boys ages 9-14 and 100% of the proceeds were donated to Dream On 3, for Tylih’s Dream Experience. A huge sports fan himself, Harris had developed a connection with the mission of DO3 and felt compelled to do something that would make a difference in his community. The idea to organize a charity basketball tournament stemmed from his love of the game and his passion for helping others.
Coach Mac, Founder & Director of Yes I Can Basketball kicked off the tournament by introducing Harris and explaining what the event was all about. “Uncommon” was the word that he used to describe Harris in his opening remarks. I remember thinking in that moment that Coach Mac couldn’t have picked a better word to describe this young man and what we were witnessing in that gymnasium. This was a weighty word as it pointed out a couple of very real truths. The word appropriately spotlighted the selfless efforts of a young man that wanted to make a difference in the life of another. But at the same time, the word delivered a gut punch by reminding us that Harris’s actions are inspiring because they are also rare.
In today’s world it is uncommon…
• To see teenagers (and adults too) put the needs of others before their own.
• To look for opportunities for fellowship and brotherhood instead of focusing on race, religion, afflictions or stature.
• To work hard for something that you believe in and see it all the way to the end.
• To inspire others to greatness by pointing up and not to yourself.
• To see families from completely different backgrounds forge a new relationship built on love and mutual respect.
• To see a coach that cares more about the character of the player than the score of the game.
• To meet parents that want to teach their children the value of serving others.
Yes, Harris and his event on Saturday are most definitely “uncommon.” But they don’t have to be.
Thank you Harris!