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Community rallies for Bobby Harris

Gabe Farmer, Democrat Correspondent • Updated Jul 26, 2013 at 10:07 PM

Chick-fil-A in Lebanon was the site of a fundraiser for 6 year-old Bobby Harris who has been diagnosed with medulla blastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. 

The fundraiser was held to raise money to support Harris and his family as he continues his battle.  In addition to funds raised by selling T-shirts at the event, Chik-fil-A donated 20 percent of each purchase when customers placed their receipts in the donation box. 

Harris was diagnosed with medulla blastoma April 6, and since that time he has had a tumor removed, as well as ongoing intensive chemotherapy treatments. 

This is the second fundraising event the Wilson County community has organized for the Harris family, the first event was last week at Jonathan’s Grille in Mt. Juliet.  All proceeds from these events help offset medical costs of Harris’ treatment.

At the fundraiser, shirts to support Harris were sold which said “Always be yourself. Unless you can be a pirate. Then always be a pirate.” These shirts came about after Bobby became affectionately known as ‘Pirate Bob’ as his condition led to double vision, causing him to wear an eye patch. 

Along with 29 of his classmates, Harris was recently featured on NBC’s “Rock Center with Brian Williams,” as well as other television and newspaper reports after they received recognition as 15 sets of twins at one school. Bobby and his twin brother, Johnny, are a part of the 15 sets of twins that currently attend Castle Heights Elementary School.

“They’re complete when they’re together; they want to be together," said John Harris, the boys' father. "They feel each other. When Bobby is having a bad day, Johnny is having a bad day.”

Unfortunately, Bobby was unable to attend the fundraising event Thursday, as he was in the hospital. His twin brother, Johnny, as well as their mother, Letty, stayed at the hospital with Bobby, leaving father, John, the only member of the immediate family, at the fundraiser. While John may have been the only immediate family member there, the Harris’ Wilson County family made a large appearance at the fundraiser.

John Harris said when the issue arose, many people asked to help them raise money, which led to the fundraisers.  Bobby’s treatment has already hit a cost of $250,000, and John Harris said they expect that number to rise by about $500,000. 

“We just really want to get the word out and try to raise everything we can," John Harris said. "Every little bit helps.” 

Only $5,000 of the expenses were covered by Harris’ insurance. 

The Harris family hopes to have Bobby at home this weekend, which would be only his third weekend home since April 6. Bobby will continue to undergo treatment for the next nine months in six-week increments. 

The community is already planning more fundraiser events for the Harris family, including a bike ride Thursday.  Donations can be made to the Harris family through Wells Fargo by asking to donate to the Bobby Harris Medical Expense Fund. 

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