Get kids on bikes.
Harrison was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Dysfunction and Asperger’s Syndrome as a toddler. Harrison was nonverbal at age three and at age five struggled with things as basic as holding a pencil and kicking a ball. When his occupational therapist told his parents they should get him a bike, they couldn't imagine him learning to ride, but he did. On his bike, Harrison found a means of coping with the world around him and his life took a dramatic turn for the better. Having an outlet for his boundless energy and a way to feel free, Harrison was able to learn self-regulation and begin to learn coping skills. He still struggled in school but things started to get a little better and he entered kindergarten in a regular classroom.
At the age of 11, his family took him to a BMX racing track and his entire world changed. His grades improved, his social skills improved and he was able to find a purpose. Soon he was racing at the track three to four times a week and the more time he spent on two wheels, the better life got on two feet. By tenth grade, Harrison was a college bound honors student. He started to think that there might a connection and after some research, Harrison found a definite link between cycling and positive outcomes for kids in all kinds of challenging circumstances. There were many statistics that jumped off the page - positive links between cycling and reduced crime rates, reduced rates of bullying and suicide, increased graduation rates and higher grades but the one that nagged at Harrison the most was this:
Less than 5% of American kids ride a bike on any given day.
He was astonished that with all the benefits of cycling, so few kids get the chance to ride. He decided to change that and GearUp was born. His first thought was that kids like him needed to know that cycling could help them be more successful. Then he realized that kids face all kinds of challenges beyond Autistic Spectrum Disorders and that cycling could help those kids too. He started working with one kid here and one kid there - encouraging kids in difficult circumstances to meet him at the track and learn to ride. He called them his Little Timmy's (because he could never remember their names when they were on the track) and it turned out that they liked it. Then girls started wanting to learn and he had to add Tammy's to the list. One day, he read that often military children learn to ride later than their peers because of the amount of time spent moving or with only one parent home. That night, he wrote a grant and planned the first "Grab Life by the Bars" event for Military Children across the country to be invited out to tracks and learn to ride. In the spring of 2018, as the local libraries were ramping up for their summer reading programs, someone joked that someone should challenge kids to get outside and within a week Harrison had partnered with a local bike shop for what was supposed to be a local "Summer Bike Challenge." It exploded. By then end of the summer, more than 100 kids from around the world had registered. Harrison recently told a reporter "At this point, I'm just here to erase barriers. Kids need to ride bikes. I'll do whatever I can to make that happen."
Harrison's drive and dedication have taken GearUp far beyond initial expectations and his personal story has certainly surpassed what his family was told he would accomplish as well. Harrison graduated High School in June of 2019, having earned 3 dual enrollment college credits during his senior year. He was admitted to all of his top choice colleges and universities and offered numerous academic and athletic scholarships. In the end, Harrison made the decision he always makes and followed his bike. In the fall of 2019, Harrison joined the Freshman class of Belmont Abbey college where he is a member of the Belmont Crusaders cycling team. Harrison is one of the first recruited college athletes with an Autism Specturm Disorder.
Harrison is studying Sports Management and Psychology with a goal to work full time in Corporate Social Responsibility or Non Profit and put his program development and management experience to work breaking more barriers for young people with exceptionalities and building bridges between corporations and non-profits.
Harrison and his GearUp Initiatives have received a lot of attention in recent years and Harrison has been traveling the country to spread his message of empowerment through cycling.
You may have even seen him on the ESPYs as he received the inaugural Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award on July 10, 2019.
Prudential Spirit of Community Delaware High School Honoree 2019
AXA Achievers National Honoree 2019
Council for Exceptional Children International Yes I Can Honoree 2019
Disney Family Volunteer Day Grant 2019
Ashoka T-Mobile Young Changemaker Finalist 2018
Disney Family Volunteer Day Grant 2018
Invisalign Hidden Hero 2021
Spur Impact Award 2021