Life changing moments often come unexpectedly. The good, the bad and the ones an individual never wishes to experience.
For Nathan Harmon that moment occurred in July of 2009. It was a night that was supposed to be filled with laughter and a new friendship. That ultimately ended with a fatal car accident leaving 28 year old, Priscilla Owens gone forever, a girl he had known for only three weeks.
“I ended up with the car keys that night, and that’s something that shouldn’t have happened.”
The days that followed after the accident were grim. Then came a surprising phone call from Priscilla’s family. “They forgave me for what happened and asked me to please not let Priscilla have died for nothing.” He made that promise to the Owens’ family nine years ago and has gone beyond fulfilling it
Sentenced to 15 years in prison gave him the much needed time to re-evaluate his life. He just had to figure out how he would keep Priscilla’s memory alive. While incarcerated Harmon did a lot of hard work on himself. “During that time I did a a lot of personal inventory. Why was I an addict? You name it I was doing it. Faith got involved.”
His time behind bars got reduced to five years. “For the last three years and nine months, I began speaking at Universities through a program for inmates to share their stories.”
Harmon sent out one tape of his story, hoping to share it with others around the country. One school invited him to speak, and from there the requests came pouring in. Four years later, Nathan Harmon is the most sought after and booked speaker in high schools. Sharing his truth and story 135 schools in the past year, the requests keep coming in.
Finding his voice isn’t limited to substance abuse alone, he can relate to students on many different levels and topics. From bullying, to eating disorders he shares whatever he can to help others realize that they’re not in this journey called life on their own.
“Sometimes the accident doesn’t even come up when I speak.” From that one fatal evening, Harmon has successfully kept his promise to the Owens family. Priscilla’s memory has lived on she didn’t die for nothing.
“It’s a humbling experience. Students approach me afterwards and open up about what they are going through admitting that they were on the brink of suicide and that what I said made a difference.”
Of course he’s presented with the question of what if the accident had never happened. Would he change it if he could go back in time?
“Of course I’d change it, but that’s not a reality. I look at what happened that night and what was started that’s left a positive impact on others.”
He is still in touch with the Owen’s family. “Two days ago her sister messaged me. She said she loved me and that she’s proud of me.” This shows that the power of forgiveness is a remarkable beautiful thing.
Before my time with Harmon is up he tells me one last thing that leaves me with a lasting impression. A message for those out there who continue to struggle with addiction:
“There’s hope. Don’t lose hope. Don’t give up on your family, don’t give up on yourself. Surround yourself with the right people. You can radically transform your life. Don’t give up on that family member. They need love.”
To book Nathan for speaking, visit his website: YourLifeSpeaks.org
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