The Comet Bay College Year 8 student was rated fourth in the state in Under-14s surfing, had been accepted into his school’s Australian Football Specialist Program and was a keen bodyboarder, skateboarder and basketballer.
Then he was diagnosed with osteo-chondritis dissecans in both kneecaps. Doctors put five screws in his right knee and three in his left, which confined him to a wheelchair and crutches for three months, and ordered him to rest for eight months in total.
Mum Julie said the active 13-year-old was gutted by the diagnosis, which left him mostly house-bound.
Brad is now back in action with surfing and football, and was runner-up state champion for bodyboarding in his age group in May.
He will now represent WA in Coffs Harbour, NSW, in November.
Even a recent close encounter with a 3.5m great white shark didn’t force him out of the water. While there’s a chance the disease could leave him with ongoing complications, Brad is keen to either explore a career in professional sport, like bodyboarding idol Ben Player, or as a mechanical fitter.
While his time off was difficult, Brad made it clear that his love of the ocean hadn’t diminished.
‘When you’re out on the water, you don’t have to think about anything, or worry about anyone else. You just feel free,’ he said.
– The Harrington family is raising funds to help send Brad to NSW. To donate, email jacknjulie1@bigpond.|com.