LEWISTON, Utah – A pair of Utah State student-athletes brightened the day of a second-grade boy at Lewiston Elementary School on Wednesday.
Football player Dalton Baker and women’s basketball player Lindsey Jensen paid a surprise visit to 8-year-old Harrison Hardy, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in March.
Both Baker and Jensen also suffer from type 1 diabetes. Jensen found out a few of Hardy’s classmates had been picking on him because of his medical condition, so she and Baker wanted to do something positive for him.
“That meant the world to me because I haven’t seen him smile that big in a while,” said Jen Hardy, Harrison’s mother.
Added Jensen: “We wanted to give him hope and prove to him that he can do whatever he sets his mind to and that he’s no different than any of the other kids.”
While Jensen was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes during her freshman year of college, Baker was found out he had it when he was in the seventh grade.
The two Aggies arrived at Hardy’s school right at lunch time. Hardy had just sat down in the cafeteria when Baker and Jensen walked in decked out in their Utah State jerseys. A look of shock on Hardy’s face was quickly replaced by a huge smile when he found out they were there to visit him.
“He’s looked up to Lindsey ever since he met her and when he found out she also had diabetes, he looked up to her even more,” Jen Hardy said. “Today was the first day he’s met Dalton, but afterward when we went into the school and they were still outside signing autographs, she said that he would like to grow up and be a college athlete like Dalton.
“Where they also have diabetes he said, ‘Mom, there’s no reason why I can’t, right?’ For them to take time out of their busy schedule, especially to sit down and eat lunch with him, that was awesome.”
Harrison was presented with a gift bag that featured an Aggie T-shirt, sock monkey, stickers, magnets and a LeBron James picture (his favorite NBA player) with an inspirational note written by Jensen on the back of it.
“That’s something that I’ll always remember and I’d like to do more stuff like that,” Jensen said. “It makes me want to be a better person myself and reach out to people who are struggling.”
Following lunch, Baker and Jensen accompanied Harrison out to the playground for recess, where they played some football and basketball. Several other students also enjoyed taking part in the activities.
“That’s something I enjoy doing,” Baker said. “I love doing things for kids and I like to be around kids all the time. To help somebody out for 20 or 30 minutes of their day is something I know I’ll remember for the rest of my life. It’s heart-warming for sure.”
As their popularity grew during the recess, Baker and Jensen were mobbed by numerous children wanting autographs. The Aggies happily obliged as many requests as they could get to.
Before leaving the school, Baker and Jensen joined Hardy in his classroom and spoke briefly to his class about type 1 diabetes.
“I am grateful for these two and their examples,” Jen Hardy said. “They are role models in so many ways for so many kids, but when they can relate to them on the diabetic side of life to a mom who is still trying to figure things out, that’s huge. With those two, their visit was genuine.”
Baker, a 6-foot-4 linebacker from Payson, Utah, is in his redshirt freshman season with the Aggies. He has appeared in all four games for Utah State this season, mostly in a special teams role.
Jensen, a former standout at Sky View High School in Smithfield, Utah, appeared in 14 of the Aggies’ 31 games last season as a true freshman. She averaged 1.6 points per game.