'Love is the greatest healing medicine that there is'
TAMPA (FOX 13) - For someone who was told he wouldn't reach his third birthday, Dallas McClain has accomplished a lot in his 20 years. Those accomplishments include an award for ROTC and several medals from the Special Olympics.
At Sickles High School in north Tampa, he is one of the most popular kids. He also works at spring training baseball games for his favorite team, the New York Yankees.
"I do the scanning of the tickets and working with the booth," Dallas smiled.
"There is just something about him that attracts people. He does. He attracts people," offered Billy Jones, Dallas's grandfather.
Dallas has been living with his grandparents for the past eight years. They can recall a time when his outlook wasn't so promising.
"At the time, they told us he would probably never walk, he would never talk," Carrie Jones, his grandmother, remembered.
Over time, the daily seizures -- caused by a rare form of epilepsy called West Syndrome -- started to subside and Dallas began to thrive. It wasn't until he took his first step, at age 4, that his family began to question Dallas's prognosis.
Carrie tells us Dallas's medical care has been extremely important. He's undergone procedures to decrease fluid and pressure on his brain, multiple medications and extensive testing, including EEG's. "The doctor cried when he took his first step."
Dallas's uncle, a youth minister, believes family and God also played a role.
"It's not doctors; it's not medication," Earl Henning stated. "We truly believe it's prayer and faith and support and it's love."
It's Earl's own song which gave the family so much hope 19 years ago. "I wrote this song for him and we put together a little video, collage of pictures and it was really just for our family."
The song got the attention of FOX 13 almost 20 years ago. At the time, Dallas was in the hospital and having episodes of seizures that were difficult to control.
VIDEO: Watch our full 1997 story on Baby Dallas (saved by the family on VHS)
As Dallas continues to defy the odds, Earl's song has undergone updates, reflecting the changes in his nephew's life.
"The song is a part of our family. It's a song of hope. The whole title was 'This Eagle Will Fly' and we've watched him fly. We've watched him leave the nest," Earl continued.
"We never treated him as if he had a disability. He just started being involved and doing more and more and then she started spending a lot of time reading with him," Billy explained.
Dallas has made the principal's honor three years in a row and has been a Special Olympian nine years running as a power lifter. But through all his accomplishments, his family says Dallas has one quality that always sets him apart.
"He is easy to love, everyone is his school, everyone he comes into contact with. He's a rock star. Every day there is something he does that makes you laugh. You gotta call everyone -- 'You know what he said?'" Carrie said with a smile.
Dallas' doctors may never understand why he survived beyond age 3. But his family says you should never underestimate the will to live.
"Love," Earl added, "is the greatest healing medicine that there is."