This 2-year-old girl named Harper is using the song “Baby Shark” to “doo-doo-doo” the impossible!
Harper Comparin was diagnosed with spina bifida when her mother, Erica Comparin, was 18 weeks pregnant. Spina bifida is a birth defect which causes the backbone and spinal cord to form improperly. Doctors told the Comparins that Harper would likely be paralyzed from the stomach down.
“I felt like my child was taken from me,” Eric Comparin said. “The way our specialist described it was very devastating. It felt like I had lost a child.”
Harper was operated on while still in the womb in an attempt to repair her spine. Before her first birthday, she had undergone seven surgeries.
“We thought whatever it is, we’re going to work through it together,” said Harper’s father, Fred Comparin.
After a year of surgical procedures, the Comparins placed Harper into physical therapy at the John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida.
“We wanted therapists who were equipped to care for children,” Erica Comparin said. “Two-year-olds are very easily distracted, so children’s therapists have to come up with creative and innovative ways to keep them interested and enjoying the work that they’re doing.”
When Harper first met physical therapist Michelle Schultz, she was terrified of even placing her feet on the ground.
“To gain the trust of a child who has gone through so many procedures is tough,” Schultz said. “They see you as another person who is going to poke and prod. You have to show them you’re there to help them be a kid.”
Schultz said through helping Harper with her movement, she’s also helped her develop confidence and personality. Her techniques help Harper work hard while still being a kid.
Schultz has Harper walk on the treadmill during their therapy sessions to the song "Baby Shark." Held up by resistance bands, the beat helps Harper keep her pace as she takes her steps. The upbeat children's tune also gives the toddler a welcome distraction while she works hard during her sessions.
“Michelle knows Harper’s personality to a tee. They have such a beautiful relationship,” Erica Comparin said. “Because Michelle knew that Harper loved ‘Baby Shark’ she decided to try it out. Just seeing the joy in Harper’s eyes was amazing.”
Harper’s father Fred says “Baby Shark” is one of Harper’s favorite songs to listen to in the morning. For Easter, he gave her a shark toy that plays the song when she presses its stomach.
For the people who care about Harper, the song is more than a catchy children’s tune. It’s a reminder of how far she has come on her journey.
“Harper is a fighter,” Schutz said. “Those things are things I can’t teach. I can’t teach motivation. I can’t teach willingness. I can’t teach empowerment and strength. That personality is something that’s already built inside of you.”
And although Harper has learned so many things this year through her therapy, the adults who love her are learning from her as well.
“Knowing that my daughter has a never quit attitude always drives me to always find a way to get up too,” Erica Comparin said. “If you keep your eye on the prize, the sky is the limit.”
We are looking forward to seeing all the amazing things Harper will “doo-doo-doo” in the future.
Go Harper, go!