October 28, 2020

Inspiring comeback evolves into huge accolade for Harris

(Franklin, GA) — The inspirational legacy of one Lady Brave outfielder was further cemented in Heard County history earlier this month when Ally Harris was named to the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association (GACA) All-State First Team in softball.

The prestigious state award followed up on several other postseason accolades for the determined senior including her being named as the Region 5-AA Offensive Player of the Year.

Just a couple of years ago Harris seemed an unlikely candidate for any major success, much less these high accolades, after she was temporarily paralyzed after a bout with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.

Ally was confined to a wheelchair for this travel ball game in the summer of 2014

Ally was confined to a wheelchair for this travel ball game in the summer of 2014

It all happened very quickly for Ally as a Heard High freshman in May of 2014 when she suddenly found herself unable to run while competing in a travel ball tournament with her Mystics team.

She knew something was terribly wrong and asked her parents to take her to the emergency room for what would be the start of a several week battle for her health.

The first symptoms of the Guillain-Barré disorder include varying degrees of weakness or tingling sensations in the legs. In many instances the symmetrical weakness and abnormal sensations spread to the arms and upper body.

It took several days, a few visits to different doctors and two spinal taps before Ally was even diagnosed with the rare and difficult to identify syndrome that only afflicts about one person in every 100,000. The symptoms of Guillain-Barré can increase in intensity until certain muscles cannot be used at all and, when severe, the person is almost totally paralyzed.

The sickness took a toll on Ally for months as she worked to recover and rehabilitate from the disorder that sometimes may take up to three full years for a 100 percent recovery.

For a time period, Ally said she felt like a hermit crab because she couldn’t walk at all and had to be carried to the bathroom and back while hospitalized. She also experienced some severe vision problems associated with the syndrome.

Her struggle was visualized in a photograph at a Mystic tournament game where she was confined to a wheelchair.

During the fall of that same year, Ally’s comeback began as she was able to return to her team roster but was still very limited in her performance. She would only get a couple of at-bats during her sophomore season but was an important part of the team which went on to win Heard County’s first state title in school history in any sport.

The relentless Lady Brave was able to bounce back in a big way for her junior season, not only earning a starting spot, but being named second team all region.

Ally credits God and hard work for her comeback and outstanding 2016 senior season where she led the Lady Braves in batting average (.416), hits (47), RBI’s (38), and doubles (13) while patrolling right field for Coach Matt Hornsby. She also scored 25 runs and hit three home runs, including the first of her career in an early season tournament.

“It is pretty exciting after not being able to play my first two years and then God gives me full strength to come back,” says Harris. “Now on top of that being named first team all state is such a blessing — I couldn’t be more excited because I worked my butt off to get back here.”

Ally during her softball scholarship signing day recently at HHS

Ally during her softball scholarship signing day recently at HHS

Coach Matt Hornsby knew that Ally’s work ethic would be the key to her comeback well before she was able to play again.

“Once me and a couple of the other coaches went to see her rehab — we knew she was going to make it back — mainly just because of how hard she was working at it,” said Hornsby prior to Harris’s junior season.

Harris, a humble athlete from the Ephesus community, also recognizes the role her teammates played in her all-state honor.

“I could not have ever made it without my teammates — it’s not just me — I felt like our entire team was an all-state team this season,” adds Harris, also a member of the Lady Brave varsity basketball team.

Her tenacious story doesn’t end here as Ally recently committed to play softball at Southern Union after she graduates from Heard County with the Class of 2017.

“I am just so thankful to God for everything and I am very excited to be a Southern Union Bison,” says Harris.

Guillain-Barré syndrome can affect anybody. It can strike at any age and both sexes are equally prone to the disorder. No one yet knows why Guillain-Barré – which is not contagious — strikes some people and not others. Nor does anyone know exactly what sets the disease in motion.

Comments

  1. Barbara Andrews says

    I am Ally’s Grandmother I am so proud of My baby Ally Mae

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