PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - One of my favorite quotes is the true measure of a man's character is how he treats someone who can do absolutely nothing for him. I'm spending the day with one of those people who has that kind of character. His name is Al Harris and his organization is called CancerWho.
Sometime in 2013, Al Harris was inspired to change his life when three family members were diagnosed with various forms of cancer. He saw the need for support and decided that he could be the person to lead efforts to provide it.
"Before I had my nonprofit I was an everyday working guy, really didn't have too many goals, didn't know what my purpose was and I think once I created the nonprofit I felt like it was my purpose."
That purpose was to quit his job and dedicate his life to supporting those dealing with cancer. It’s filled with days of chemotherapy and home visits and little, if any, source of income but he says helping others has made him happier than he's ever been
"Ever since I stopped working and started doing CancerWho fulltime, in my life I've been happier."
Arriving at the house of one of the patients he regularly visits, a 7-year-old with leukemia named Tristan, it was easier to understand his motivation. Tristan was much more interested in my camera than he was in being interviewed, so we made him an honorary reporter to hear his thoughts.
“Yes, and brings me presents.”
He brings you presents?
Does it make you happy when he brings the presents?
You like that camera a lot don't you?
You want me to talk to someone else now?
Ok, point taken! So I let Tristan play cameraman.
You just go around and shoot and that will be your camera ok?
It seems like for everything he's had to go through he's doing remarkably well.
“It’s been a journey but with Al being around he's been like a big brother to him. He makes Tristan happy, he's even got his little brother saying where's Mr Al at? He's like family man!"
And as Tristan warmed up to his reporter job, his grandmother shared her feelings.
"Does Mr Al help?”
“Yes, he does yes, very much so. And I'm so thankful for men like Mr Al. Arent you thankful?”
“Do you love Mr. Al?”
“So do I."
And that was the perfect place to end our visit.
"I'm Tristan, thanks for coming -- CUT!"
Al Harris sells CancerWho shirts and hats so that he has the money to buy gifts for the patients and families that he visits daily. He says that regardless of the financial challenges he faces, people like Tristan and his family have showed him that this is his calling, to be there every day for those in need, for goodness sake.