'Bigger than the game': Lone Peak football players and cheerleaders grant wishes to 2 terminally ill children
“Hunter got to a point where he was realizing he was different than other kids, both physically and mentally,” Don says. “I think it’s given him a real boost in self-confidence. Abby was getting to a point where she was depressed. She was starting to become a recluse; she didn’t want to do anything.
“I played sports in high school and I can honestly say that I don’t think I was mentally available to do what they’re doing,” Don says. “Society is filled with great kids that haven’t figured out how to be great yet. Here, there’s a group of kids that have figured out life is greater than having the latest cellphone. It’s about building relationships and giving joy.”
Front-office doors activate upon the Harwoods arrival. The family maneuvers through hallways sketched with Lone Peak’s mission statement, “Committing minds to inquiry, hearts to compassion, and lives to the service of mankind.”
Two assemblies are scheduled for the annual “Gold Rush” fundraiser, and Abby is the honorary speaker. “I was like, ‘Oh, man. I’ve never talked in front of that many people,’” she says giggling.
Hundreds of students funnel into the auditorium, their attention fixated on the young 14-year-old. Abby always desired to help those in need, and she finally figured out how.
“My mama always told us that my dad was her knight in shining armor,” Abby says with her parents at her side. “I hoped that I would find that when I was really sad, lonely and with what I felt was no hope. I was not only given a knight — I was given an entire army. I thought the best way to show my gratitude was to grow (the Harwood Family Foundation). I want others that have similar problems as my brother and I have to be able to feel the love and help like I do.
“If I can ease pain, give joy, comfort and love, then my life has been worth more than I ever had dreamt. It is my hope that I get support to start this foundation, (so) I can truly make a difference before it is too late. I believe everything happens for a reason. I want to thank you for your time and hearts. You are my knights in shining armor.”
Winning a football championship eluded the Knights in 2013, but for senior Jacob Irving and his teammates the life-changing sentiment was invaluable. “At that moment I realized we didn’t need a state championship to realize how much potential we have to do good.”
“It is the moment,” Kathy says. “You really have to live every moment — just keep breathing. Huh, Abby?”
Abby beams. “Yeah,” she says modestly.
“Just keep breathing.”
Note: For those wishing to donate, the Harwood Family Foundation is launching a website this week, harwoodfamilyfoundation.com. Information is also available at lonepeakgoldrush.com.