Winning Essay by Dallas O. from Iowa attending Iowa State University

Winning Essay by Dallas O. from Iowa attending Iowa State University
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Danny Harris  was a highly acclaimed Olympic silver medalist. Sponsored by Nike, an undefeated 37-0 record in collegiate track for the 400-meter hurdles, it seemed this man had the world. One moment he was competing for his nation, and the next his world collapsed when he cracked to the pressures of drugs in stardom. All to a cocaine addiction that created a hurdle, he could not jump on his own.
 
Harris found himself travelling across the country from Perris, California, to Iowa State University as a two-sport collegiate athlete in football and track. After his freshman year at Iowa state, Harris left for California to compete in the 1984 Olympics. At the Olympic Trials, he fell short to legendary runner, Edwin Moses. Harris lost his first race. He would lose again to Moses in the Olympics, finishing second to his fellow American. 
 
After Harris had become an Olympic medalist, he returned to Iowa State. Years later, he returned to the Olympic trials to compete in the 1988 Olympics but missed the cut. He then tested positive for cocaine when the 1992 Olympics approached, receiving a four-year ban from the sport. He was homeless on the streets of Long Beach. Realizing his gifts, talents, and potential, he became sober and served three years of his ban. In 1994 he was reinstated. However, his demon never fled. As the 1996 Olympics were approaching, he again tested positive for cocaine and received a lifetime ban from professional track. 
 
Harris checked himself into the rehab facility The Midnight Mission after a sudden realization of his addiction. After finishing the program, he returned to Iowa State University to attain his degree. During this time, he used his athletic experiences as an assistant track coach. After graduating college in 2010, he returned to Midnight Mission and became the assistant to the president of the facility.
 
I have known of Danny Harris’s story my entire life. My uncle and Harris became close friends while they attended Iowa State. However, it wasn’t until his return in 2008 that I had the privilege to know him personally through my uncle. I also had the opportunity to volunteer at The Midnight Mission twice during family vacations, when Harris worked there.
 
I am a sophomore at Iowa State University, majoring in Public Relations. I plan to become a spokesperson for non-profit organizations like Make-A-Wish and organ donation. I want to help others whose lives have been touched by these organizations, just like my life was. My sister and I were born with a liver disease that requires a liver transplant some point throughout life. My sister was 13 when she received her new liver. Sadly, she lost her fight at 18.
 
Danny Harris is an inspiration to me because I know how hard he fought when giving up seems easier. I have felt the pain of an experience that causes a feeling of complete hopelessness. With confidence, perseverance, and motivation, Danny Harris has shown me that you can overcome any adversity.
 
 
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