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Determination

Harvey fights past disability to succeed

December 29, 2012
By CHRIS JOHNSON sports@messengernews.net

Joe and Kelly Harvey are firm believers that everything happens for a reason.

Nearly 14 years ago on Good Friday, the couple's philosophy was truly tested.

The parents, who now have eight children, saw one of their babies go through a heart-wrenching accident that put one of their four-year old twins' life in jeopardy.

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Like children do at that age, Eddie Harvey was outside in the yard. While playing near a slide, Eddie was hit by a four-wheeler and life flighted to the hospital.

The immediate diagnosis wasn't good.

"My wife brought him back to life,'' said Eddie's father, Joe. "They said he wasn't going to make it through the life-flight and there was going to be brain damage.

"They kept him in coma and it basically turned out to be like a stroke. It effected the right side of his body."

The Harveys were preparing to rearrange the family's living situation, before she found out how much resolve her young son would display.

"Initially we were preparing for a hospital bed in the living room and for him to be tube fed,'' Kelly said. "He crossed a huge hurdle when he started eating. Blank (Children's Hospital) then moved him to a wheelchair and then to a bike.

"After the accident, he quickly adapted. The therapy girls said that most people with head injuries fight through depression and anger - he didn't. He just switched to being one-handed. He was right-handed, but had to adapt and become left-handed and so did Teddie (his twin).''

This is just the beginning of the Eddie Harvey story. The scope of his accident is hard to put into words, but the heart and determination and the will to be like his brothers has undoubtedly been the driving force.

Brotherly bond

All four Harvey brothers have put on a St. Edmond wrestling singlet.

Frankie (23), the oldest, was a state qualifier. Teddie (current senior) finished fifth at state and is currently ranked fourth. Vinnie (17 and a junior) was a state qualifier last year and is rated No. 1.

Eddie's name is missing from that list, but that doesn't stop the18-year-old from having the same goals.

"I want to make it to state,'' Eddie said. "I'm doing this for my brothers and parents. I want to be just as good as them. I don't want to let my coaches down and I want to give it my all.

"They push me (Teddie and Vinnie). Teddie is mean (on the mat) and is tough. Vinnie has a lot of confidence and Frankie comforts you. I couldn't do any of this without them.''

The driving force for Eddie has always been to give everything he has and make it to state with his brothers.

"It would mean a lot (to go to state),'' Eddie said. "I don't care about winning a state championship, I just want to get down there and have fun. If I make it, all four Harvey boys would have made it.''

Eddie also has four sisters: Corie (21), Maggie (14), Gracie (8) and Josie (6).

On the mat

Wrestling is known as a tough-guy sport, but along with athletic ability there is a key ingredient that makes some wrestlers even that much tougher - heart.

With only one side of his body at full function - his left - it is much more difficult to compete. Eddie has to have a brace on his right leg and can move his right arm, but can't grip anything, according to Joe.

First-year St. Edmond head coach Tanner Utley is amazed by the feel Eddie still has in the wrestling room.

"It's contagious,'' Utley said. "The team feeds off his performance, seeing what he's putting into it.

"He puts a lot of things into perspective. As an adult when something is tough, I put myself in his shoes and realize that my hurdles are small compared to his.''

Former St. Edmond head coach Jim Allison saw Eddie's fight from the beginning.

"The heart that he has is immeasurable,'' Allison said. "I wish I had four or five kids on a team that had the drive that Eddie has.

"It's a heartfelt experience anytime he steps on the mat. He's a young man that any coach would be proud to have. Win or lose it didn't matter: you would get 200 percent from him.''

Having a disability doesn't deter Eddie, and now he is starting to figure out the bigger picture.

"I hope I'm an example for anyone to realize they can do what they want to do,'' Eddie said. "Wrestlers and coaches at tournaments have come up to me and told me what an inspiration I am.''

Living with the disability

Obviously there have been some big hurdles for Eddie to clear, both physically and mentally.

"It's tougher and harder. You have to go through a grind,'' Eddie said. "You have to do stuff differently, but I just find something that works for me.

"The disability is hard, but I want to prove to everybody that I can do it.''

In the grand scheme of things, Kelly believes that the accident happening at an early age had its advantages.

"Another blessing was that it happened when he was so young - everyone has known him this way,'' Kelly said. "He has great friends and they've never made him feel any different.

Allison, who coached Eddie in the YMCA program since the fourth grade, has watched him grow and progress.

"He never thought he had a disability,'' Allison said. "He worked harder than most kids and pushed himself. He wanted to win.

"He would motivate everyone around him, including his brothers.''

Utley quickly saw the drive and determination that Eddie possesses.

"He is very talented,'' Utley said. "The things that he does in the wrestling room with just one side of his body are unbelievable.''

Inspirational

For an 18-year old high school student, it's hard to know what the future holds.

"It's tough to describe or put into words what he's doing,'' Utley said. "The discipline that he has and the whole attitude of his parents and him is unbelievable.

"He has honed it into his everyday life and has acted like it's never happened. I know he'll have a bright future no matter what happens because of that.''

Joe is amazed to this day the things that his son has accomplished.

"For the outcome that they gave us on the ride to Des Moines and them telling us that he was going to be a vegetable if he was even going to make it at all, we're extremely blessed,'' Joe said. "He plays football, he used to run track and he wrestles.

"It just chokes you up. There are a lot of kids that can't stay out for wrestling, but here's a kid that does everything.''

From a mother's perspective, Kelly is also about the big picture.

"I get really teary-eyed when parents, fans and wrestlers come up to us and say how inspirational he is,'' Kelly said. ''Eddie just works to the best of his ability and to his fullest potential.''

Boys will be boys

Having four boys compete in a grueling sport is tough as a parent, but having one with a disability would seem to be even more of a challenge.

Not for the Harveys.

"Joe and I talked about it after the accident,'' Kelly said. "We were going to let him do what he wanted to do. He runs with a limp, he played baseball, but that never held him back.

"He's a huge rodeo guy and if he wanted to ride a bull, I'd probably let him.''

The love of wrestling and his family has driven Eddie to push himself harder than every.

"My dad has given me the motivation along with coach Utley and the coaching staff,'' Eddie said. "My mom is very supportive and knows how hard it is for me.

"Coach Allison meant a lot to me. We have a great relationship and he's a great guy. All of my brothers have been a huge influence, as well as my sisters.''

 
 

 

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