OPA-LOCKA, FLA. (WSVN) - A heartbroken community came together, Monday night, to pay tribute to an 11-year-old boy who died after, officials said, he collapsed just prior to track practice at a school in Miami.
Hundreds of people gathered at Florida International Academy Charter School in Opa-locka to say goodbye to Kaleb Harris.
Mourners filled a book of condolence with messages. It wasn’t the kind of book Harris’ classmates thought they would be opening on this rainy night.
Heartfelt songs and touching anecdotes marked the after-school memorial for the beloved 11-year-old, which took place at the cafeteria. 7News cameras captured several classmates breaking down in tears.
Harris’ parents sat together and listened to several stories detailing how their son touched everyone he met. “Kaleb, every person he came into contact with, his heart’s desire was that every person he came into contact with, that he would leave you with a smile on your face,” said the Rev. Lorenzo Johnson of Excel International Church.
Last Wednesday, Harris was preparing to warm up for his after-school track practice at Miami Northwestern Senior High School when he collapsed. Officials said he went into cardiac arrest.
Paramedics rushed the boy to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where pediatric doctors were unable to save him.
At the packed memorial, Harris’ life was remembered in poems, prayers and dance. “Kaleb was love, and we’ll always carry him in our hearts,” said Suzy Pounds, his grandmother.
Autopsy results won’t heal the mourners’ pain, but for Harris’ family, friends and school staff, Monday’s memorial gave them a chance to bid a final farewell to a boy whose spirit soars with the ones who knew him.
Dr. LeRoy Wright, the charter school’s dean of students, oversaw a release of balloons in different shades of blue. “It’s raining. That means Kaleb is laughing and smiling on us,” he said. “He’s in heaven. We’re going to celebrate.”
Using a megaphone, Harris’ mother, Reneathea Peters, thanked attendees. “Thank you to everyone who came out tonight in honor of Kaleb,” she said. “Blue was his favorite color, and the girls danced to his favorite song, ‘Take Me to the King.’ I don’t know how you guys knew him, but he is happy. Thank you.”
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