Douglas Harriman loves calling the shots. Crouched behind home plate and strapped down with gear is where the 13-year-old star baseball player feels most confident.
Douglas Harriman, 13, has CF and plays for an elite baseball team in Waco, Texas. He dreams of one day playing for MLB’s Texas Rangers.
“It’s my safe zone,” said Douglas. “As a catcher, you see everything on the whole field — you’re like the captain.”
Douglas, who has CF, plays for the Waco Storm, an elite team in Waco, Texas and has dreams of playing for MLB’s Texas Rangers.
His understanding of baseball has long impressed many, including his father, Gordon, who often brags about his son’s many athletic accomplishments. When the pitching coach was ejected from a double-header a few years ago, the team depended on Douglas to call the pitches during the second game. Another time, Douglas powered through a 45-minute inning in 108-degree heat.
“I don’t want to be treated differently because I have CF,” Douglas said. “I would never use my disease as an excuse not to be my best.”
Recently that winning attitude earned him recognition — a league-wide award for sportsmanship. Gordon explained that the league’s coaches and umpires wanted to honor his son’s teamwork as well as his commitment to a rigorous treatment regimen to keep up his health.
“He always puts everyone in front of himself,” Gordon said. “His hitting instructor told me that Douglas has shown him what a true warrior is.”
Douglas’s active lifestyle complements a daily regimen that involves waking up at 6:30 a.m. to do 20 minutes of vest therapy followed by hypertonic saline therapy. Douglas passes the time listening to rap music — his favorite artists include Lil Wayne and Dr. Dre — and watching “Shark Week” or ESPN to catch up on his favorite teams. “I don’t mind doing my treatments; the chest therapy is kind of fun — like a massage,” Douglas said.
Douglas refuses to let his CF hold him back. He
recently won a league-wide award for his can-do
attitude and excellent sportsmanship.
That can-do attitude reflects Douglas’s upbringing as well as his miraculous early days. Around 36 hours after birth, nurses noticed Douglas had suddenly become jaundiced. There was no time to airlift him to the children’s hospital in Fort Worth, so a family friend and doctor stepped in to perform a life-saving surgery. Nearly a foot of the newborn’s bowel, which had become blocked, was removed.
“It was the happiest and saddest day of my life,” Gordon said. A diagnosis of cystic fibrosis soon followed.
Since those devastating early days, Gordon and his wife Susan have committed themselves to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. When Douglas was a toddler, Gordon launched the Dougie Classic, an annual charity golf tournament in Waco that soon became associated with the CF Foundation’s North East Texas Chapter. On average, the tournament raises around $50,000 annually for the CF Foundation, with a running tally of around half of a million dollars.
“It’s phenomenal to be part of an organization that is making such huge strides, and is on the cusp of curing a disease,” Gordon said. “Being involved with the cystic fibrosis community has changed my life, and as a businessman I would choose the CF Foundation even if I didn’t have a stake in it. The work the Foundation does to support lifesaving CF research is remarkable — the results are there. That gives me so much hope for my son’s future.”