Inspirational Mother-Son duo takes on TriWaco
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - If you attended TriWaco Sunday morning, there is a good chance you noticed a woman pulling her son on a raft behind her as she swam during the race.
That woman was Madeleine Harrison, and in the raft was her 13 year old son Keegan, who has been battling a number of health issues his entire life.
Keegan was born with an auto immune disorder that has damaged him developmentally and intellectually.
He is unable to run, bike, or swim on his own, but Madeleine has found a way to include him in her triathlons, thanks to a cart, raft, and an incredible source of inspiration.
Madeleine explains, “Every time it gets hard, all I can think of is, every day of his life, every step he takes, is hard. If he can do it (most of the time) with a smile, then I can do it too.”
Keegan’s whole life has been a battle. The day he was born, the doctors performed open-heart surgery. Seven days later he became the youngest and smallest person in Texas to receive a heart transplant. To this day, he continues to overcome issues with his health.
“He has a global immune disorder that has caused a lot of problems. He has had multiple strokes. He has renal failure. He has some developmental delays that cause some neurological damage – but he is still here! He is going to be 14 in two months,” his mom tells me with tears in her eyes.
Keegan is still here because of an organ donor that saved his life.
On that day, when Keegan got his new heart, his family decided to start “K’s for Keegan.”
“K’s for Keegan” is a running group that raises awareness about the importance of being an organ donor. The idea continued to grow until Madeleine and her husband discovered a way to include Keegan in the events.
Sure, the extra 160 pounds from Keegan and his cart make a triathlon even more of a challenge – but Keegan’s presence is enough to make sure his mom never gives up.
“Physically, it is obviously harder. Mentally, it gives me a reason to keep going. I am not going to let him see me quit. We don’t want him to quit, ever. He’s not going to quit. And I can’t quit because of him.”
Madeleine and her family are signing up for as many races as possible and savoring every moment with Keegan, because they don’t know how many more they have left with him.
“One day, we are going to toe the line on a race that he will not be here with us. So, I know that I will have these memories of us together. When that day comes, I won’t need to worry about where my motivation is because I will be able to look back on days like today, and remember, and know that we are working for something bigger.”
The Harrisons will forever be grateful for the donor that saved their son’s life. They hope K’s for Keegan can help save other lives.
“The reason we are out here, is to encourage people on their own journeys and, ultimately, to raise organ donor awareness. If one person goes back and makes the decision to be an organ donor then anything we do out here is worth it.”
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