An Elm Grove Middle School seventh-grader received a huge surprise in front of the entire school on Monday afternoon, a day before he begins a tough battle against liver cancer.
Odie Harris, 13, was diagnosed with liver cancer with lung metastasis last June and heads back into treatment on Tuesday. Before Odie and his family travel back to St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis, the Bossier Sheriff's Department had a surprise to help fulfill one of Odie's biggest wishes: to become a U.S. Marine.
Undersheriff Doyle Dempsey of the Bossier Sheriff's Office told us that the Make-A-Wish Foundation contacted them about Odie's wish to become a U.S. Marine. "We felt like we had the capacity to do that with our Bossier Young Marine program."
The seventh-grader told us that he had no idea about this honor until Dempsey called him up in front of his classmates on Monday afternoon. "I guess I'm just one step closer to my dream," Odie said in response to receiving this honor.
From the hat to the shoes and the medals to the dog tags, Odie became an honorary U.S. Marine. "I've just wanted to serve my country," Odie told us of his wish. And he joked, "the Army and the Air Force just didn't seem like enough fun for me." Odie's mother, Lauri Harris, also added that Odie enjoys guns, which also led him to dream of being a U.S. Marine.
When Odie finishes treatment and becomes healthy, he can join the 13 weekends of basic training for the Young Marines. But for now, Odie and has family will head back to St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis on Tuesday. Lauri told us that they don't know whether it will be a short or long trip, "but he's going as a soldier this time." Dempsey echoed her statement saying, "he was fighting a big fight already, now, he's fighting it like a Marine."
This surprise is an empowering send-off gift for Odie to start this new battle. Both Odie and his mother had big smiles on their faces as they told us that this was a fun way to wrap up their last day at home.