At just 15 years of age, Bruce Harries’ short journey through life has been a rocky road.
In fact, an ATV accident five years ago left him unconscious needing to be airlifted to BC Children’s Hospital where he remained in a coma for a week. At the time his parents, both doctors, were told not to expect him to wake up.
But the true fighter he is, Bruce overcame the odds and did wake up however he spent the next three months in hospitals relearning many of the basics like walking and talking.
The Grade 10 student at Penticton Secondary School recalls little of that time other than the visits from his brothers and sisters who often came to be by his side.
“I always had visitors, and this had a good impact on other patients as well,” said Bruce which is just another indication of his caring for others. “I was often tired, and my siblings would play video games with other kids there while they waited for me to wake up.
That compassionate feature of his character was one thing Bruce, one of nine children, was something he did not need to relearn was his generosity which has earned him the nickname of “super nice” by his Pen High classmates.
Going out of his way to help others, Bruce’s daily greeting of “knucks” punching fists, his form of a handshake and is followed by his characteristic “how’s it going?”
Brian Allanson, the school’s applied skills department head described Bruce this way: “He is a pleasure to have in class, most pleasant student ever. He is willing to help out and is friendly with every other person in the classroom.
“When his feet are still and his mouth is idle the gears are turning, he is mentally absorbing something from his environment which inevitably he will comment on. You know it’s coming, it always does.”
According to school officials Bruce has brought with him a level maturity not often seen at his age.
While his injury prevents him from playing sports, it doesn’t keep him off the bench of the junior boys’ basketball team working as manager and keeping stats.
“I like being with the guys just being around them and hanging out. I can’t be on the team but I still like the team atmosphere,” said Bruce about his role. “I love to make people laugh and smile.”
Coach Scott Nicolson agreed: “He’s a morale guy, always looking to get the guys in the right frame of mind, a fun guy to have on the team, cracking jokes the boys like.
We’ve had a great relationship.
“As a student, everybody knows who Bruce is, he’s a fantastic kid always got a grin on his face. He’s modest, just an all around good positive kid to have around.
Bruce also loves kids and enjoys babysitting and looking after little ones so it’s no surprise, especially with both parents being doctors, he is hoping to be a paediatric nurse.
But post secondary schooling may have to wait for a year as Bruce hopes to spend some time traveling in Europe with friends after graduation.
And when he returns Bruce plans to get serious about life but that will definitely come with that characteristic grin and knuck for good measure.
“Student of the Month” is a Rotary Club of Penticton Okanagan initiative. The award aims to recognize outstanding students for unique achievement in scholastics, extracurricular activities, community involvement, leadership and service to others. The Rotary Club of Penticton Okanagan is partnering with Penticton Secondary School and Princess Margaret Secondary School, aided by a generous financial contribution from Gateway Casinos as part of their proactive involvement in wide-ranging community service projects.