Disabled student theft victim uses obstacles to teach others

TOWSON, Md. - It's not everyday that a despicable crime turns into something uplifting.

But when Jeremy Harvey is part of that equation, it's really not surprising. Even after everything the 22-year-old Towson University student has been through, he doesn't know what the big deal is.

"It's so difficult for me to talk about myself because, these challenges that I face, I've learned to just deal with them," Harvey said. "They don't seem extraordinary to me, because my life is full of challenges; everyday is a challenge."

The 22-year-old is living with cerebral palsy and he's nearly blind. ABC2 first introduced you to Jeremy back in November, when he was targeted by a thief at the Aberdeen Library.

Library surveillance video shows the suspect following him around to several locations within the building, then snatching his laptop as he waited by the door for his ride to pick him up. The laptop was specifically designed for Harvey, with programs to help him better see, files of schoolwork, and years worth of music that he composed himself.

"There's a critical difference to understand that you can be angry at a situation, but not angry at a person," he said. "I am angry that he chose to do that, I'm angry that the results of the laptop being stolen as they were, but I'm not angry at him in any way."

During our original story, we caught the suspect on camera; he returned to the scene of the crime within a week as we were filming video. Aberdeen Police have since arrested the suspect, and the laptop has been returned to Harvey.

Three months later, Harvey has reached out to hundreds of kids, using his musical talent to share his story.

"Music can say what words can't," he said.

He has spoken to a handful of youth groups about overcoming hardships and relying on faith.

"I learned that through this experience, asking questions like, 'Why me?' or, 'Why did this happen to me?' or, 'What if this didn't happen to me?' I learned that asking those questions really doesn't help." He said on Sunday evening in front of a crowd of about 50 people.

In the past, the group has aired our original ABC2 story as an introduction.

"When they recognized, just from that story, at least a little portion of what he's overcome and what he's been through, they were excited to have him come in," said Adam McBride, who organizes the events. "As he walked back up the aisle, in a way that only Jeremy can do, there was great applause and excitement to hear from him."

McBride says Harvey connects with these youth groups in a way others might not be able to.

"It's not so much about me and what I've done and who I am as a person, it's more here's someone who has overcome difficulties, and trials," Harvey said. "And I want to share with them that through the help, in this case, of those around him and through the help of God, that they can overcome their own difficulties."

It's a message that has struck a chord for a number of groups he's met in a few short months.

"They were just really fascinated with his talent, and taking something that a lot of people would see as a trial or a struggle, and he turned it into something amazing, something that he can use to inspire those around him," said Eva Poff, a student at Sunday's event.

It's a story of overcoming struggles and relying on faith; a remarkable story that is touching the lives of hundreds.

"I think that's how the world works," Harvey said, "Is that we inspire someone, and in turn they inspire other people around them. And I'm glad that I could help start that chain reaction if you will."

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