PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE: Falcons players rally around young hospice patient

DULUTH — Earlier this month, 24-year old Chavis Harrison was admitted to Peachtree Christian Hospice (PCH) for complications from a motorcycle accident that caused extensive bodily damage, including quadriplegia.

Since it is rare that PCH cares for patients who are both young and cognitively alert, the dedicated staff were particularly moved to do something special for Harrison. Upon admission to PCH, they learned that he was a life-long Falcons fan who had played football from the time he was 7 until he was 17 years old.

During a team meeting, a social worker mentioned how great it would be for some Atlanta Falcons players to come visit him. Knowing the challenge of making any arrangements during the NFL season, PCH Administrator, Natalie McNeal, placed a phone call to Brian Finneran, ra etired Falcons wide receiver, and a loyal friend of PCH, to pursue the odds of a visit. With Finneran's help, the Falcons administrative team responded within hours and arranged for Dominique Davis and William Moore to visit Harrison.

Attired in a Falcon’s hat and jersey, and accompanied by his mother, Harrison was prepared and excited to meet members of his revered Falcons team. The players brought an official Falcons football along with other Falcons gear to sign and give to him. During the visit, Harrison gave advice on winning games to the players. He instructed them to tell Matt Ryan, Quarterback, to run the ball more, and he advised William Moore to hit harder when playing next weekend. Before they left, both players relayed to Harrison that they would lift his name in prayer with the entire Falcons team before the next game.

Later that week, Finneran also came to visit Harrison. Having just co-chaired PCH's annual charity Golf Classic with fellow retired Falcon Dewey McClain, Finneran strolled into Harrison's room wearing his No. 86 Falcons jersey. Finneran also signed the football and hat Harrison was wearing. They conversed about Harrison’s football career in high school and recapped may of the previous years in recent Falcons history.

Both visits gave Harrison something extraordinary to look forward to and lifted his spirits noticeably. It was an honor for all of the staff at PCH to be a part of this milestone for Harrison.

People Helping People is a publication of the Gwinnett Coalition for Health & Human Services.
For more information contact Ellen Gerstein - ellen@gwinnettcoalition.org or at 770-995-3339.